Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Random Picture 61

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You know it's warming up when the "soft cream" trucks start rolling along the streets. This one was parked near Ueno park during the latter part of the cherry blossom viewing season. More Japanese people like soft serve ice cream than the real deal (hand scooped), and it's cheaper and easier to find. To be fair, I finally tried some "soft cream" in Japan for the first time and it was pretty good. The flavors on offer here are "sakura" (cherry blossom), green tea, sweet potato, melon, chocolate and vanilla mix, vanilla and mango. I wish I had bought some, but I wasn't really in the mood at the time. I'm thinking the sweet potato might have been pretty nifty.

7 comments:

Burp and Slurp~! said...

Sakura! Oh get the sakura! That sounds fascinating. But I guess you can never go wrong with sweet potato either!

elle marie said...

You will probably giggle over this BUT.. did you know my favorite soft-cream was from Mini-Stop? It had this condensed-milk taste that I like... don't can't me started I'm dreaming of Dairy Queen on the way to Wildwood. N.J.!

Kasia said...

I do not know if you still can see this after living in Japan for so long, and getting used to all that, but for someone from Europe/Poland like me this is what "fascinating exotic Japan" is all about :D I know that this is not true Japanese food etc, but in the end, the thing is no one really cares about the so called really true foods and very difficult to understand specialities. For example, I tried mochi several times (thinking one time is not enough to judge something), and I did not flip about it. It tastes like a low quality dumpling, and we have a lot of really tasty dumpling varieties in Poland, so maybe I am spoiled, but somehow it did not work, I thought a sweet item should not taste like a sugared savory low quality dumpling :/ Even if there are better mochi types (I am sure of it) in Japan, it still will likely (a few exceptions aside) not taste like anything more than a not quite so good dumpling, a sticky and hard to eat dumpling to boot. I think mochi is an acquired taste, something you grew up liking as a kid and then it stays as a taste preference, or something for people who generally flip over very traditional Japanese/Asian flavors.

What people everywhere care about are known and loved food items, or at least their abbreviations, but in uncommon flavors and preparation types. What I mean is, coming back to your soft ice cream photo, no way in hell would I ever be able to find an ice cream truck around anywhere in Poland/Europe/most of the world, which would sell "sweet potato" or "sakura" ice cream (I like sweet potatoes too, even if they are not easy to get where I live, and rather pricey). And the other flavors are fantastic too, and probably only available in the finest ice cream places in areas like Paris, except vanilla of course. But that is exactly the point: vanilla, chocolate, strawberry - that is all you get in nearly all ice cream trucks in nearly all places around the world, vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, over and over and over again :/ Some large cities in very innovative places will offer many other varieties too, but those are the rarity. So honestly, an - in your area - normal average ice cream truck selling such fantastic and refined flavors is like watching life on Mars! This makes Japan seem to me like one of the most refined places on earth, and filled with the people of highest intelligence and innovation imaginable. If something mundane and common has already such high quality and level of refinement, this is barely fathomable on the large scale :O

Orchid64 said...

Thanks to everyone for the comments!

BurpandSlurp: I've had sakura stuff before, and it is just a sort of weird cherry. It sounds a lot better than it tastes, at least to me. I love cherries and things made with cherries (fresh, dried, whatever), but cherry flavoring just doesn't do it for me.

Ell Marie: I haven't have Dairy Queen in over 25 years! I wonder how I would receive it after all of this time.

Kasia: I can see how you might see mochi as a poor quality dumpling, and I've had Polish dumplings (pierogi) before that were incredible (sadly, I didn't have them in Japan as they are pretty much unknown here).

I can see where you'd think their strange flavors make them more refined, but I think this is the way in which something appears exotic because it is markedly different from what is common in ones own culture. There is a food tasting column in the Onion's AV Club and they were raving about how "advanced" the flavors were for KitKats in Japan, but there has never been a peanut butter KitKat. This most basic and delicious combination, peanut butter and chocolate, is nowhere to be seen here.

As far as I know, there's never been a mint variety, chili, cookie dough, or bacon. However, in the U.S., there are varieties of chocolate that mix in all of those flavors. It's just a matter of what is common here isn't common elsewhere so it feels "exotic", but it's not to people who live here. There's no more adventurousness here than anywhere else, but it sure feels like there is if you aren't exposed to the common varieties.

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that for someone in your area of the world, this is what is fascinating. In fact, that is the fuel that runs this blog. If folks like you didn't feel that way, I wouldn't have many readers. ;-)

Ejia said...

I love melon ice cream. Considering that melons are really popular here in the Philippines, it's odd that it's actually a bit hard to find.

Dani said...

My top picks on the soft serve ice cream list are sweet potato and melon. It's (almost) like having gelato in Italy...so many amazing flavors and options! Thanks for this fun post this fun post today. Makes me want soft serve ice cream right now...:)

elle marie said...

And there I go again commenting in a drunken stupor. "giggles" Actually, I don't have an excuse! I meant to say "don't GET me started"... "gah"! I wonder what those sea-side-boardwalk softies taste like now?

Gomen... when I could edit my comment when I make embarrassing grammar/spelling mistakes.