vendredi 26 avril 2013

Things that surprise me about Denmark - Ice cream

What comes into mind when you think about Denmark? I'm pretty sure it's not ice cream!

One thing that surprised me about Scandinavia was the ice cream culture. I never expected a cold country to like ice cream this much. Having read other Scandinavian expat blogs, I've learnt that ice cream is an even bigger deal in Iceland than in Denmark. It's even colder there!

Ice cream truck equipped with a bell on top. Author of photo: Den Nation.

I have a theory as to why that is.

In France people eat ice cream, but they are not crazy about it like the Danish people. I don't see many people eating ice cream whilst strolling along Bordeaux's quay. Why is that?

French people want to sit in cafés, preferably en terrasse, and drink together. I do sometimes see people eating ice cream, but most ice cream eaters in France are young people. And French people hate eating ice cream when it's cold outside (this means less than 25°C, haha).

French people, at least in Bordeaux, don't like to eat while walking. French people want to socialize together in cafés, often over a beer during the summer months.

Danish people don't want to spend their time sitting in cafés during the summer months. They do enough of that during the long, dark winter months. They prefer to spend sunny days outside, sitting together on the bridges, strolling around 'the Lakes' (5 man-made lakes in the centre of Copenhagen), hanging out in parks having picnics, etc. Who wants to sit in a café when the sun is shining outside? As soon as daylight savings time starts in March and the sun starts shining, the ice cream comes out. Who cares if it's only 7°C outside?

As long as there's sunshine, Danes will congregate outside! FYI, there was an ice cream stand right in front of where these Danes were sitting. Author of photo: Den Nation.

During the summer months all of the bins around the Lakes are full to the brim and overflowing with empty ice cream cups and iced drink cups. Everyone is out and about, and out and about eating ice cream.

In Canada ice cream is eaten all year round, but I think many Canadians see it as a comfort food. Just broke up with your boyfriend? Get a tub of ice cream and drown your sorrows in front of the TV. And what better food but ice cream when you are having a girls' night in watching a chic flick! Let's get out the popcorn while we're at it!

One thing that really surpised me in Denmark is that Stracciatella seems to the national flavour. If it's not the national flavour, it's one of the favourites, because Stracciatella ice cream is everywhere. Only the "Stracciatella" ice cream that they eat is not really Stracciatella at all because it's basically vanilla ice cream with thick gobs of chocolate sauce in it. I would say that at least one third of the ice cream consists of chocolate sauce. Italian Stracciatella is mostly vanilla ice cream with chocolate shavings. I'm not saying it Danish Stracciatella tastes bad, because it doesn't, I'm just wondering how the discrepancy between the two came to be.

I've asked some Danes about the whole Stracciatella phenomenon and they are blissfully unaware that they seem to like eating Stracciatella. My questions were met with shoulder shrugs.

Can someone tell me why Stracciatella is everywhere? Author of photo: Den Nation.

Another thing that surprised me was the ice cream truck. Once a month you can here distant bells ringing in the streets. Those are the trucks calling you to come buy ice cream. They drive slowly down the streets in residential areas, ringing a bell. It doesn't matter that it's minus 5 outside, they'll be there! You can buy many types of ice cream from these trucks, but you usually buy in bulk; you can't just buy an ice cream cone from the "ice cream man". What a stark contrast to Canada, where I spent my summers as a kid running after the "ice cream man", who would ride around on a bike with a refrigerated ice box attached filled with single-serve portions of ice cream. When he rang that bell, all the kids started running! In Canada the "ice cream man" sells treats to kids, not adults. And he's only there during the summer.

The ice cream truck's menu. Author of photo: Den Nation.

So what about where you live? Is there an ice cream culture?

8 commentaires:

  1. Like the French you described, I have never seen ice cream as comfort food and I rarely if ever eat any. It's just too cold! Especially in Canada... I mean, the last thing I want to eat is some "sweet snow" ;-) I did have "sorbets" in the summer in France, mostly to cool off, not so much for the sugar buzz. French ice cream aren't that sweet either.

    My kind of comfort food is definitely around carbs. Bread, cereals, etc.

    1. Yes, French people see ice cream as a "refreshing" treat.

      I think ice cream is a bit expensive in France and I rarely buy a cone when out, even on a hot summer's day.

      I also prefer eating carbs, but I have to work hard to stay away from the boulangerie. If I buy brioche I gobble it all up - it's terrible, I don't even cut it with a knife, I just "rip" into it.

  2. Oh the ice cream man! I remember that it was always some skinny high school kid peddling those blue ice cream boxes attached to a bicyle of sorts at my soccer games.

    I'm a huge fan of ice cream having worked at Dairy Queen from grade 10 to second year uni. I love that you can find really great flavours of ice cream in France that I had never seen in Canada. Makes me want some right now, actually!

    1. Yeah, remember him? I used to chase after him even when I didn't have money, haha.

      There are some interesting flavours in France. I am absolutely mad about caramel beurre salé. I do stay away from ice cream shops because I find them expensive, but if I am in a restaurant I won't hesitate to take a scoop of caramel beurre salé for dessert!

  3. Ha! your post brought me to memory lane. I was one "ice cream man" for 2 weeks in the summer. During the Saint-Jean and Canada day I would shamelessly increase the price of my ice cream cones during the festivity. Nobody cared about the sudden price increase, they wanted ice cream. It was a hard job and I hated peddling around town, but I enjoyed watching the kids runing to me just to get their ice cream.

    As a child, I used to love "napolitan" ice cream, strawberry, vanilla and chocolate in the same bucket. I don't know if it was only found in Québec though. Now, I avoid ice cream as much as possible, but I do love pistachio and speculoos flavour(a big thing in the North of France and Belgium).

    1. You were an "ice cream man"? I never knew the prices increased during the holidays.

      I was one of those kids who used to run down the street after the ice cream man. It's so funny, now that I think about it, the ice cream man wasn't a man at all, but some teenager working a summer job. For the young me, though, he was always a "man".

      I have to say, now that I've tasted strawberry ice cream in Europe I can never go back to Canada's version. It tastes so chemical. What I love about ice cream in Canada are flavours like cookie dough, cheesecake and maple. They are probably just as bad as strawberry ice cream, though, but I love them!

      In Ottawa you can find Napolitan ice cream everywhere.

      When I still lived in Canada I hated chocolate mint with all my being. Now I love it!

  4. In England there is a year round ice cream culture! However, on hot, sunny days the ice cream vans are out and driving around the little streets of villages and the children swarm towards them! To me, ice creams are for hot days or when you are by the seaside - Luke and I had ice cream at Port Dover the other day, in Canada, that is almost like a seaside resort!

    1. I absolutely love Cornish ice cream. I know it's a deadly sin to eat so much clotted cream, but it's soooooo good. I wish I could find it outside of the UK.