08 February, 2010

My History in Junk Food, part 1


This was the year my aunt Cheryl visited my family from Sweden, with her husband Gunnar, an all-around terrific guy, and one I wish I had around more often. I remember him being much more funny than my other uncles, and more interesting to young children because he had a beard and liked to draw. He had the unique gift of being able to tease young children by being actually funny instead of cruel or condescending. He taught me how to draw realistic(-ish) looking clouds.

One night while the entire family was sitting around playing a board game or arguing politics, I noticed that Gunnar was eating a small carton of ice cream. He told me that it was coffee ice cream and that it was very expensive. Since he was a kind, childless, easy-going sort of uncle, he offered me a bite and it was the most delicious thing that I had ever eaten in my entire life. I remember feeling rather hyper for the rest of the evening, but that could have just been because I was four.

22 years and one baptism into the Mormon Church later, I still think coffee ice cream is the most delicious food item on the planet. This has led to approximately fifteen hours of difficult soul-searching, and I think three blog entries. Look it up.


My favorite house that I ever lived in is only half a mile from where I live right now. I still drive past it every once in a while and admire it, the apple tree in the front yard, and the two-foot square window my father spent an entire weekend installing in the crawlspace so I could have a indoor playhouse. Most of my positive childhood memories are from that house even though we only lived there two or three years. It had a creek in the backyard.

It was also an ideal house for a five year-old because it was only two blocks away from a dingy, locally-owned money laundering operation wholesome corner grocery store that sold CANDY. LOTS AND LOTS OF CANDY. My equally health-conscious mother and I would often go for rejuvenating "walks" that ended up at that store. Because my favorite candy at the time was, of course, Gummy Worms, I called that little place "the worm store."

The summer of '89, one of my cousins was in town, who was a mature eight to my five. It being a simpler time, she and I got permission to walk to the Worm Store alone. We did not have any money with us, however. This is how I learned to shoplift.

We stole Gummy Worms, naturally, and for an extra dose of irony, candy cigarettes.


My mother was pregnant. We lived in a different house, one with no real usable backyard, just a hill with dead grass, and no crawlspace. It was, by all accounts, an inferior house to the previous one. However, it had three bedrooms, and it it possible that our former house had not. I honestly can't remember.

The important thing is that my mom was pregnant. She is so tall and stately that she actually looked pretty good pregnant, in my opinion. She was so forgetful, though, that at seven years old I took charge of the housekeys sometimes and almost every week she drove away from the drive-through bank with that futuristic tube thing still in the car. Then we would have to drive through again to return it, so going to the bank always took twice as long.

Also, she craved borscht. I don't know if it really was a pregnancy-related food craving, or it it's just a coincidence that my memories of eating borscht with my mom also involve her being pregnant. Anyway, there used to be a little Russian diner on fifteenth right by our house (where the Ichi Bento is now) and I loved going there, not for the Russian food, but for the 1. onion rings and 2. ice cream sandwiches.

On no other occasion had I seen or eaten an ice cream sandwich, except at that little Russian diner. Until I was embarrassingly old, I actually thought they were a Russian food, an exotic import for the East. Whenever I craved an ice cream sandwich, I always asked my mom if we could go to the Russian diner, or later on, lamented its passing. Considering the weight problems I had as an adolescent, I think it's probably a good thing that I didn't know one can purchase ice cream sandwiches wherever cold confections are sold, until much later in life.

1 comment:

TheMoncurs said...

A. We eat coffee ice cream at our house with zero guilt (meaning the house I grew up in. Aaron was kind of shocked at that when we got married and still doesn't really eat it). Mud Pie Mojo from Cold Stone is kind of a family weakness.

B. If you ever go to California get an It's It. They're the best ice cream sandwiches ever and for some reason are only available there. I grew up eating them and still miss them like crazy.

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