Strawberry milkshake made with fresh strawberries and vanilla ice cream is a real treat in the summer.
The Norwegian food writer Henry Notaker once said “Sugar is the Americans’ favourite spice”. I guess he had ketchup on his mind, but you could also add marshmallows in the fruit salad or frying bacon with sugar to make candied bacon. Then there is the love of ice cream. Serving strawberries with ice cream to make milkshake instead of strawberries and cream. Putting ice cream in soda drinks. Having cookie dough or brownies in the ice cream. I might as well admit it: I want it all! When I first arrived in the U.S. I bought the biggest cookie I could see.
But there is another America. Such as the Creole kitchen of New Orleans, the Tex-Mex kitchen of Texas, soul food of the Afro-Americans or the super food of California. America has small villages like Woodstock where the only supermarket is organic and tiny seafood restaurants on the coast of Maine serving chowder (soup) and lobsters. You think of fast food? I think of slow food. Barbecued ribs roasted for more than 8 hours. And the very best ice cream from Ben & Jerry’s, ice cream that has been fair-trade for decades.
American food is the ultimate comfort food
And the ultimate comfort place is the diner with its most celebrated beverage: The milkshake. Like the milkshake that has existed since 1900, my journey also started long ago. I do not know when but sometimes in my childhood, a desire coming from the American films I watched on television. One of them being the Thorn Birds, an American TV-series from 1983 starring Richard Chamberlain. I sent him a fan letter, receiving a signed photograph. I did not know at that time that he was gay (well, I did not know that I was either).
But it was still years before I could go to there myself. I had to turn 30 years old. But then I really did it. Landed on American soil at JFK, New York and finally saw the skyline of Manhattan. It was the summer of 2001 and two months before the towers of World Trade Center were to collapse. I made it to the bookstore on the ground level of WTC, inhaling the views from Brooklyn Bridge and having lunch in Central Park. Then taking the bus up north to the little village of Woodstock, forever associated with hippies and the Woodstock Festival that actually took place in White Lake in the neighbouring county. Here I ate my very first American cookie at the café Heaven and got married, before jumping on the train to go, like so many before me, west. To San Diego, Santa Monica and San Fransisco. Dreaming the California dream.
Later I have come back twice. The second time a journey by car from New York to Southern Florida. The third time driving from Memphis to New Orleans to New York. Most of the time I have had decent or wonderful meals. Be it in a backyard in Brooklyn, in an ice cream parlour in Kingston NY, in a live blues club in Memphis or at home as a guest.
Strawberry milkshake (makes 4):
1 punnet strawberries (500 g / 17 oz strawberries)
4 large scoops of vanilla ice cream
200 ml / 7 oz milk
2 tbsp sugara (optional)
1. Wash and hull the strawberries and pat dry. All ingredients should be cold, so put the strawberries in the freezer for an hour.
2. Assemble the strawberries in a large blender. Add the milk and blend well. Add the ice cream and blend until smooth.
Music: Chris Isaac.
Also with strawberries:
Eton mess, my English summer flirt
Panna cotta with strawberries