Posts Tagged With: Baskin-Robbins

175/365: National Pralines Day

Today’s food holiday is a little bit sweet and a little bit nutty. June 24 is National Pralines Day!

A praline is essentially a pecan that has been boiled in sugar until it turns crisp and brown. In some parts of the world, almonds are used. Pralines are popular additions to cookies, candy, ice cream, and chicken noodle soup.

Pralines are French in origin, and were named after the 17th century diplomat César, duc de Choiseul, comte du Plessis-Praslin. Talk about a mouthful. Dude-with-a-long-name’s personal chef, Clement Lassagne, actually created pralines after watching children scavenging leftover scraps of almonds and caramel from one of his pastries. Other versions of this story exist. In one, he followed the children, who had stolen almonds and heated them over a candle, caramelizing them. Or, one of his klutzy apprentices knocked over a container of almonds into a vat of caramel. Whatever the true story, pralines caught the fancy of many, and even though dude-with-a-long-name gets all the credit, Lassagne didn’t do too badly for himself. He opened a candy shop in France called Maison du Praslin which is still around to this day.

Pralines made their way with French settlers to New Orleans. Because almonds were in short supply, cooks began substituting nuts from Louisiana’s abundant pecan trees instead. Women who sold pralines on the streets of the French Quarter were known as Pralinières and were given the unique opportunity to sell their wares in order to earn a living. Women who sold “other things” on the streets of the French Quarter earned a living in other ways, but we won’t discuss that since this is a family blog. Since New Orleans was a busy port city, pralines spread around the country, and became a popular confection nationwide.

To celebrate the mighty praline, we stopped by Baskin Robbins for pralines and cream flavored ice cream. I had never had it before, and I’m not exaggerating at all when I say it was some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had!

National Pralines Day

Categories: Nuts | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

15/365: National Strawberry Ice Cream Day

Here’s the latest scoop: today is National Strawberry Ice Cream Day!

Ha. Get it? Scoop? I kill myself.

Ice cream has been around for a very long time. As far back as 3000 B.C., the Chinese served a mixture of snow or ice and juice to their guests. People in the Persian Empire were so enamored with the frozen treat (theirs contained grape juice concentrate poured over a bowl of snow), in the summertime they would trek to the highest snow-covered peaks to bring back baskets of snow. The phrase “don’t eat the yellow snow” became popular after one poor sap mistakenly tried what he believed to be a lemon sorbet, even though sorbets had yet to be invented.

Nowadays, ice cream is a worldwide favorite, and is made with milk and cream instead of snow. Which is a relief, given the whole global warming thing. I’d hate to see ice cream go the way of the dodo bird. Vanilla and chocolate are the most popular flavors, and strawberry is a distant third, with 5.3% of the vote.

There is a very interesting link between strawberry ice cream and aliens. In 1988, a prime-time special on alien conspiracies aired; during this broadcast, two high-level informants said the government had retrieved a crashed UFO, and that the alien on board was fond of strawberry ice cream.

The natural inclination is to assume these guys are crackpots. BUT. I know a guy who used to work at Area 51. True story. He wouldn’t tell me much about it, but did say that the base cafeteria had a wide variety of ice cream flavors available. Makes sense, considering Area 51 is located in the Nevada desert. Anyway, he insisted they always ran out of strawberry ice cream. {Cue dramatic music}. Whether this was because a captive alien had a jones for the stuff is anybody’s guess – when I pressed him on whether they actually harbor aliens there, he got rather cagey and started throwing out words like “top” and “secret” – but it makes for an interesting story nonetheless.

Hey, one bite counts!

Hey, one bite counts!

ET may like strawberry ice cream, but neither Tara nor I are particularly fond of it. We weren’t looking forward to eating a bowl of the stuff, but then we remembered our official rules stipulate we must merely try a single bite of the celebrated food du jour. Why not just walk into Baskin-Robbins and ask for a taste of their strawberry ice cream? We did, and they were more than happy to scoop some up on a tiny plastic pink spoon and pass it over the counter.

The proprietor looked at us oddly when I started taking pics, and I was ready to mumble my “we’re doing a project” excuse, but he never asked. Just in case, we bought a couple of pints of non-strawberry ice cream in order to appease him.

We’re nothing if not polite.

Categories: Desserts | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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