Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Cool and Mighty Mint: Summer in an Ice Cream

While I'd rather put the mint in a mohito, this week's Kitchen Window from NPR might be of some interest to some other people reading here. Scroll to the bottom of the article for a recipe.

Cool and Mighty Mint: Summer in an Ice Cream
I learned two things quickly: One, that mint's essential oil, menthol, is one of nature's most elegant boons, delivering a sensation of coolness to our bodies' heat sensors just at the peak of summer's heat. Two, that I could make a virtue out of mint's vicious abundance by steeping plentiful handfuls in my ice cream's custard base. I could capture the cooling menthol effect -- and then double it in the freezer, in one fell scoop.

Finally, I tried blanching the mint, then grinding it in milk, and was rewarded with a faint chlorotic cast. It was not the color of summer. It was the color of winter -- a winter spent indoors, say, under fluorescent lights staring at a computer monitor. I gave up and returned to the pale but powerful mint chip I'd learned to make.

My mint chip tasted green. I had only to close my eyes to return to the Baskin-Robbins parking lot, to an age when seeing was believing and belief's magic extended even to Green No. 3.

Yet such is the transporting nature of ice cream, whose sweet and chilly power defies age and season. For a moment, we and our grownup disbelief, however tangled at the root, can be suspended in time and mentholated space -- cool, green and forever young.

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