I’m from Maine – a rugged sort of place that requires its citizens to be tough. You have to be tough to get up and go to work when the temperature is 25 below, snow’s five feet deep and the wind is blowing a gale.
Maine is beautiful. The first time my Aussie husband visited Maine, we’d just come from our home in Victoria in southern Australia where we’d been in drought for about 7 years and he said, “Sure is green!” Everything in our world was brown and here was this mass of green as far as he could see (he had his head glued to the window of the plane).
The contrast between where I lived and where I was from was striking. We lived along the Murray River in Australia – one of Australia’s biggest river systems and there in Maine we were walking along the banks of the mighty Kennebec River in Winslow. John said he’d never seen so much water in a river before. During the worst of the drought we could have walked across the Murray River.
People in Maine talk funny. They have different words for common things. Mainers hang aht on their walls, walk down the road apiece, stand in the doah yahd, eat wicked good chowdah, put their buhdados down cellah and describe things in a cute way. “It was so fricken cold, even the lobstahs were wearin mittns.”
The word good has two syllables and the iconic word that suits just about any occasion for a Mainer is “ayuh.”
When I was 16 I got a part-time job across the river in Waterville at Rummel’s Ice Cream in the summer. It’s been sold to Gifford’s now but the building is the same. When I worked there, the Rummel family lived in the house.
I scooped ice cream, made sodas and sundaes and worked the snack bar where we served lobster rolls, hamburgers and deep fried hotdogs. Those were weird but I loved them.
“I’d like two lobstah rolls ta go,” didn’t sound odd way back then. Now it makes me laugh.
Rummel’s also had licorice ice cream and it was my all-time favorite. It was the sort of ice cream that turned your tongue black so you couldn’t pretend you hadn’t eaten any and if you spilled any on your white uniform – busted! It didn’t wash off very easily.
I didn’t care. I ate it anyway.
My father was a dedicated strawberry ice cream man. I’d get a cone of licorice ice cream and my dad would roll his eyes and say, “Anyone that would eat that would eat shit off a rusty spoon, Maureen.” He also said ‘jumpin judas on a rock’ when he got really angry too.
A few weeks ago I was reminiscing about my childhood and told John I wanted to make some licorice ice cream – for old time’s sake.
He wrinkled up his nose as if to ask, “Do you HAVE to?”
“Will you make me some vanilla or chocolate? I don’t think I can eat black ice cream and I’m not fond of licorice.”
He’s incredibly spoiled. He was the baby of the family and spoiled from the day he was born. When he was young his sister would dress him before waking him up so his mother wouldn’t yell at him for missing breakfast (again). I must be guilty of spoiling him too because I made vanilla ice cream too.
When I finished the licorice ice cream and it was in the container, I put the container inside a ziplock bag. Someone on the interwebs said if you put it in a plastic bag, the ice cream would never get too hard to scoop. Nonsense I thought but guess what? It worked! It was solid but scoopable. I always put a piece of baking paper directly on top of the ice cream as that prevents any freezer burn or ice crystals forming on the top but I’d never tried the baggie idea. Brilliant.
If it’s been a long time since you licked the side of a licorice ice cream cone, why not try this recipe. John’s dad and I loved it. Black tongues and all.
- 1 cup milk
- ¾ cup sugar
- dash salt
- 5 egg yolks
- 1 tsp licorice flavoring or 113 grams (4 oz) black licorice candy
- 2 cups cream
- Into a medium saucepan, add the milk, sugar, salt and licorice candy if using and heat to nearly boiling (and the licorice candy is melted).
- While milk is heating, whisk egg yolks til frothy.
- While whisking briskly, slowly add ⅓ of the hot milk and then add the egg mixture back into the pan of hot milk.
- Reheat the mixture until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon - don't overcook or you'll get scrambled eggs.
- Remove from heat and add in licorice flavoring.
- Chill for several hours or overnight. Add in the cream and freeze in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.