Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Eating in Alaska . . .
This article about ice cream is a bit long, but it does give you an insight about the spirit of Alaskans.
Alaska's Passion For Ice Cream
By Michael Russell
"Alaskans eat a lot of ice cream. Several associations that keep track of that sort of thing have put their signature on that fact. Records show that Alaskans consume more ice cream than any other state in the U.S. The records also reveal that the average American eats roughly 4 gallons of ice cream a year and that Alaskans eat a bit more than the average. That could add up to a lot of ice cream. It's rumored that Alaska's record may even include the rest of the world but there's no evidence of that anywhere just yet.
Now don't think that Alaskans will eat just any ice cream. Alaskans eat ice cream all year long, never tiring of it and are more than willing to pay for the good stuff. They are quite a picky folk. About 15 years ago a well-known American ice cream chain went out of business in Fairbanks, Alaska. Somebody didn't figure on a small Alaskan town (small back then) being so particular about their ice cream. They must've thought that Alaskans were desperate for whatever they could get. Surely a 'Name' brand would guarantee them some good business there in that 50 - 70 below 0 in the winter part of the world. They sure could've used an Alaskan Business Tour Guide. They would have been informed that a name alone means nothing to Alaskans. They expect quality to the equivalent they expect it with all of their goods and services.
Alaskans and those who later in life have chosen to live there, on the whole are a rough and tough bunch because much of Alaska is rough and tough living. As a balance to all of it's pristine beauty and majesty, there are hardships to living in 'the Last Frontier that one can't imagine unless one lives there for a while; at least a good couple of harsh winters and a summer. In many areas of Alaska, folks have to create their own comforts. Hard work is an understatement most of the time and very few comforts are free. In short, Alaskans work hard and expect top notch for their dollars. It's quality or they go somewhere else without apology.
Another growing American ice cream chain opened up for the first time in Alaska several years ago. They too were banking on Alaska's passion for good ice cream. This husband and wife team had an edge though. The wife was born and raised in Alaska. She knew what Alaskans liked. While visiting in what Alaskans call the lower 48, they absolutely went nuts over the ice cream they bought at a new premium ice cream and yogurt store. It wasn't a franchise yet but they believed that it would work in Alaska. They also knew they couldn't take any shortcuts if they wanted to succeed. So after doing the research, they had to convince the company that they weren't crazy, that Alaskans really did love ice cream. Not until they showed them the statistical data on Alaska's ice cream consumption did they begin to take the couple seriously about franchising the company. It took about five years but they opened their first store in Anchorage. It was hard work, but their hunch paid off better than expected and has expanded to the Kenai Peninsula just a couple of months ago.
The difference? The ice cream was plain good quality ice cream with no short cuts. Another not so surprising detail about this new ice cream chain is its insanely high prices that by the way, so far, Alaskans have been willing to pay. Hey, if Alaskans love it, it must be good."
Are Alaskans just as passionate about Gelato - or is it just me?
Gelato is an Italian frozen dessert—a.k.a. Italian-style ice cream made from water, milk and/or soy milk, combined with flavorings, sweeteners, and a stabilizing agent. Gelato comes from the Italian word for “frozen.”
Traditionally, it has had two major points of differentiation from American ice cream: density and butterfat. Unlike ice cream, gelato machinery whips almost no air into the product (i.e., much less overrun), resulting in a dense and more intensely-flavored product.
The greater amount of butterfat in ice cream tends to coat the tongue and the taste buds. The lower butterfat level of gelato allows more of the flavor of the fruits, nuts, chocolate to shine through. In addition, gelato recipes tend to have a higher proportion of flavoring than ice cream. The end result is heightened flavor.
*“2004 Ice Cream Outlook,” by Donna Berry, Dairy Foods, March, 2004. Photo from Capogiro Gelato Artisans.
It's funny what you learn and are willing to try when you are on an adventure. I had always heard of gelato and seen it in stores, but it always looked like a pudding consistency to me. Too soft. How could it stand in a cone? It just didn't look like it would taste good to me so I never bothered with it -why waste the calories? Now I did try Alaska's gelato - I think I tried it first in Denali. Let me tell you that it was far better than I had imagined - it was better than ice cream and it was firm and wasn''t as soft as I had thought it would be. Maybe it was just because I tried it for the first time in Alaska as the time was right to try new things. I wanted to try it in every city I was in! Funny, now that I'm home - the appeal is gone.
Bread Pudding - again I tried in Denali - had never tried that either. Some people say I've lived a sheltered life. It was cinnamon flavored and it was yummy. The young waitress was really trying to get me to eat this bread pudding (maybe I don't like pudding). So again (bravely -lol) I tried the bread pudding. Oh my gosh - almost to die for (but not as good as the gelato). So an idea popped into my mind - I ordered another one to go and left it for my waitress. She was so sweet and I was having such a good time.
Salmon - Of course it is everywhere - literally. I'm a mild fish eater, but was served salmon a couple of times. Smoked salmon, cooked salmon with a glaze sauce, dried salmon - I tried the cooked salmon with glazed sauce - can't say it was my favorite, but I did it. Now the halibut tasted better to me.
Reindeer sausage: I actually tried it - in like salami form and you really couldn't tell the difference.
Caribou Meat: I do have my limits - none for me.
No, believe it or not I didn't gain weight on the trip from eating bread pudding and gelato - that's not all I did and I did do some exercise (lol). And because it's just not the same atmosphere here as in Alaska, I'm not going to run all over the place and eat gelato and bread pudding. I probably will go back to Brewster's Ice Cream - chocolate raspberry truffle (once in awhile) - yum.
I'll have my memories of all my food experiences in Alaska and I'll savor them, but you can't dwell on the food in Alaska when you are in Georgia and can't get the same thing - the same experience - guess you have to deal with withdrawal. Weird I know, but that's Chatty and I'm definitely okay with being different. Those foods just wouldn't taste as good here as in Alaska (lol). Maybe it is something that will bring me back there someday. . .
Try new things when you can or you may miss the opportunity, then savor the memories, but you gotta enjoy where you're at too.
What about New York pizza?
Chicago Hotdogs - you can get them here too - just not quite the same either.
What new foods have you tried in places you've visited - that have made a memory on you - that's just not quite the same at home?
PS At Kroger they gave my grandson a "Ranger" cookie. Sounds great - right? He didn't trust it and he asked grandma to try it - I took an ever so small bite - now who the heck puts coconut in Ranger cookies for a kid? I was spitting out coconut pieces all day! I wouldn't even eat coconut in Alaska - I do have my limits. Kudos to my grandson - he ate the cookie.
PSS I mention gelato 10 times - and my spell checker doesn't recognize it, but I'm pretty sure it's spelled this way.