The Post-Colonial Sweet Tooth

One of the oddities about ice cream is that despite its long history in Europe and Asia, it’s perceived by much of the world as an American thing. Food historians speculate that the reason for this is the regular and frequent contact America had with France after the close of the American Revolution. The French, as you may recall, were allies of the US in those days. At least toward the end of the war, where their most famous deed was to blockade lower Chesapeake Bay with their navy, thus isolating Cornwallis and ensuring his defeat at Yorktown. It was the de-facto end of the conflict. But I digress…

The interesting thing about the American approach to iced desserts is that despite having received most of our know-how via the French, we vastly preferred milk- and egg-rich concoctions to their light fruit ices. In this way we took after the Brits, who likewise eschewed French-ified water ices in favor of heavy cream. So I guess we inherited the British taste for frozen dairy fat as well as their concept of individual liberty — though in classic American style we indulged in it to the extreme. Even subsequent British visitors to the States were aghast at the mountains ice cream Americans ate, summer, spring, fall and winter. Probably why Americans were the first to invent stretch pants.

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