In the White House what was often on the menu that George Washington was wild about and Presidents Madison, Andrew Jackson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Richard Nixon would not do without? The answer is ice cream, without a doubt. Ice cream was also declared “morale food” by the US army during World War I. These tidbits of information I learned from Marilyn Powell’s book, “Ice Cream: The Delicious History.”
Powell must have a true passion for ice cream to have gone to such great lengths to bring her readers the history and the legends of ice cream with so much enthusiasm. The book is as tasteful as the frozen dessert of cream, sugar, and eggs most of us enjoy, and the author’s writing style is not frozen at all, but warm, animated, and engaging.
The history of ice cream is universal, and it starts with the oldest of times, Biblical maybe, when snow was a precious item and people collected it. There were ice pits in ancient Britain dating to Iron Age. Then in old Greece, Hippocrates, father of medicine, warned people against eating it, because the stuff suddenly threw “the body into a different state,” but people ate it anyway. Even Marco Polo might have seen it sold on the streets in China.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, stern Europeans had to be cajoled to let the cold stuff enter into their bodies, since most illnesses were blamed on the ice cream. Yet, convincing the Europeans proved not to be too difficult, given the flavor of the dessert.
Elaborating on the stories of ice cream and its variations like the banana split, Powell carries the history of the dessert through Europe and the United States to Andy Warhol’s ice cream cone paintings to our day.
To adorn all these embellished facts, “Ice Cream: The Delicious History” has delightful drawings of old ice-cream makers and contraptions, old and new ice cream recipes, President Jefferson’s Vanilla Ice Cream recipe, and another one for the Black Cow Soda.
According to the book’s publisher, the author, Marilyn Powell has taught at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. An award-winning writer, broadcaster, and producer, her work has been published in Saturday Night, The Canadian Forum, and Books in Canada. Her short stories have appeared in Toronto Short Stories and Aurora III. Powell has a Ph.D. in English literature from Harvard University.
The book is in hardcover with 256 pages and ISBN: 1585677973.
It is quite fitting to end this article with Powell’s own words in the epilogue. “Ice cream is a pleasure, a triumph, a treasure of invention. As Voltaire is said to have remarked, ‘Ice Cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.”
Enjoy the book. I did.