- Audio Cassette
- Publisher: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC Audio) (May 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0660186462
- ISBN-13: 978-0660186467
- Product Dimensions: 16.7 x 13.4 x 2 cm
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Powell digs into the fact and fiction surrounding ice cream's history, and we're often delighted to find that the myths and legends are every bit as fascinating--and sometimes more telling--than the actual facts. The author has a light and personal narrative style that makes this a quick, fun read, which fits the subject matter well. It may not CHANGE THE WORLD, but it will certainly make you hungry. Perfect for throwing into the ole beach bag or as a gift, but to be fair to the receiver, make sure you include a pint of the good stuff to go with it.
In addition, I found several factual errors, not the least of which was stating the Benjamin Franklin was an American president. Those types of errors tend to make me wonder about how accurate the remaining portion of the research is.
Finally, I found it distracting that the author jumped around in history from chapter to chapter. There was no straight chronology, but rather a twisted tale back and forth through the ages.
With all that said, the writing is well done and this would make for a great "quick" history of the subject.
Even in Beowulf, the carousing soldiers quaff not only mead, but the delicious proto-ice cream a grateful king left out in the snow. Ms. Powell lives in Canada (Toronto to be precise), so her cultural history is very Canadian-centric. She goes back to a local mansion and pores through the household bills, noting that the high society people who lived in this fabulous Spadina House, Alfred and Mary Austin, once ordered enough ice cream for 310 guests in the summer of 1900. She also notes that Canadian literary treasure Timothy Findley recalled his mother, in the Depression, making "snow bread," out of freshly fallen snow. Powell's chapters are studded with recipes all of which sound professional enough, if not exactly tasty.
She is also familiar with the Quebec custom of throwing hot maple syrup into fresh snow, and then it hardens into a taffylike substance she relates dimly to the "taste for cold" which she argues has shaped Western civilization for millennia.
We see how changing consumer needs, hedged in by modern technology, developed one innovation after another: the ice cream cone, the Eskimo pie, the banana split, right down to today's artifical hemp and soy milk-and-sugar substitute "frozen dessert."
Ms. Powell writes the sort of book about ice cream that Virginia Woolf might have written--it's discursive, it's recursive, her style laps back and forth between past and present as if trying on party dresses, there is a continual appeal to friends and neighbors for associative anecdotes. It's appealing, but don't dip your toe in unless you can stand a lot of indecision about which way to go next.