Eating. ice cream.
I think the first ice cream I remember eating was mint chocolate chip. I remember watching my mother scoop it out of its carton in our bright kitchen. (Probably now that kitchen would seem very small to me, but at that time I was very small myself and my world was contained by the boundaries of our house and its garden). Bright green ice cream, swirled with chocolate chips that were not shaped like those you find in a cookie, but flat chips like pumpkin seeds. All other mint chocolate chip ice creams I have eaten since have had chocolate chips like chunks, and now I wonder if I imagined those thin, flat seeds of dark chocolate.
Or perhaps that first ice cream was Rocky Road, chocolate ice cream swirled with marshmallows and nuts. Whenever I have it now I feel very young again, remember how I used to stir my ice cream with a spoon until it melted into a soup, how I would eat the nuts and marshmallows one by one. Even now I love it, the crunch of almonds, the fluffy sweet marshmallows, although I no longer make soup of my ice cream. Sometimes I would reach for the strawberry ice cream, pale pink and studded with strawberries, frozen hard until the ice cream began to melt and they would become slushy.
When I was very young and we went to New York for our holidays, we would have dinner in Italian restaurants with my grandfather (who loves Italian food) and for dessert there was always spumoni. I would eat each flavor one by one, precisely dividing that slice of ice cream into its three different flavors. When I was older tiramisu would replace spumoni as my dessert of choice and it has been years since I've had it.
Later there would be elaborate confections with amusing names, courtesy of the folks at Ben & Jerry's. My father loves Cherry Garcia, and we nearly always had some in our freezer. Vanilla with sweet dark cherries and hunks of chocolate. Or Phish Food, with the chocolate fish and ribbons of marshmallow. Or the Vanilla Heath bar crunch. There are too many to name, and I love them all.
In college I discovered gelato. That is to say, I discovered nocciola gelato. Parmalat makes a hazelnut gelato with pieces of baci in it, those hazelnut-and-chocolate sweets. It was complete addictive. We drove to the mall a good half-hour away from school (a considerable distance considering it took less than ten minutes to get anywhere else in our city) nearly every weekend for gelato and shopping. I was shattered when Parmalat closed their store at the mall. I haven't had that flavor of gelato since. It belongs to a different time.
The other night C. opens my refrigerator in search of something to drink; I've just moved and there is only milk, lemonade, seltzer, bottled coffee, and nothing else. Oh, and ice cream. I see you have all the necessary essentials, she says, reaching past the unopened carton of Mint Chocolate Chip for ice. I laugh. Later, I curl up on my bed with a mug of ice cream (I still have no bowls), savor that clean taste of mint, the sweet dark chocolate. Perfect.