ForeWord Reviews

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A Month of Sundaes

Foreword Review — July / Aug 2002

While ice cream in various forms can be traced back to
ancient Rome, it was really Thomas Jefferson who made it our “national dessert,” says the author in this ode to frozen dairy treats.

Americans eat more ice cream per capita than any other nation. Candidates show their down-homeness by eating ice cream. Jefferson shook up his dinner parties by warming maple syrup and drizzling it over the dessert he’d discovered in Paris.

While ice cream may not be ready to usurp apple pie in “As American as”, “it’s definitely beloved, whether red, white, or blue, Turback writes”. His chapters mix recipes with history, including “Strawberry Surprises,” “The Birth of the Sundae,” and “Keeping Spirits Up.” With more than 150 recipes, this book will give ice cream lovers more than enough to get them through a hot summer.

Between the historical references are scientific explanations of why ice cream is so good. For instance, the salt in the ice stuffed in the churn actually melts the ice, drawing the heat away, thus decreasing the time it takes to make ice cream. The sundae really was invented on a Sunday, in a drugstore in Ithaca, N.Y., when a druggist spontaneously poured cherry syrup over a dish of ice cream. Turback himself lives in Ithaca, was a restaurateur for thirty years, and confesses to eating a sundae every day.

The illustrations depict soda fountains from the turn of the previous century, old advertisements, and mouthwatering splits and other treats. The exhaustive recipes range from several varieties of good old vanilla to candied nuts to a variety of sauces. Clever variations include putting ice cream in a hard hat to serve it, frying bananas in tempura batter, and making simple syrup with champagne instead of water.

The book is arranged in chronological order, with the recipes offering a taste of the era in which they were popular. For instance, the Roarin’ ’20s features a “Spotted Dog Sundae” with double amounts of chocolate, typifying “the double-the-fun spirit of the ’20s.”

Howard Johnson’s “bible” of sundae-making is revealed (“With the scoop FACING YOU, dip into the ice cream approximately ¼ inch.”) as are several of the famous desserts from that blue-roofed restaurant chain.

This book is written for the serious ice cream lover, who wants to know the myth behind the magic and not just what to serve at the next potluck.

Jodee Taylor