Indonesian or Italian? Icy treats!


Family Food Fare and Favourites

Join me as I dig through my memories, and recipes, to rediscover my family’s food “back in the day” and how those food habits have changed over the decades to today’s diverse and multi-cultural cuisines. This is my theme for the 2021 A to Z challenge.

THEN

Mum’s coconut ice blocks

When I think of my childhood days, the only “I” foods that leap to mind are Iceberg Lettuce (then just called lettuce), and Ice Cream or Ice Blocks.

What could be better than a frozen delight on a hot Brisbane’s summers day as the mercury climbs? I have fond memories of having Coconut Ice Blocks, in a glass or cup, while sitting in a shady spot in the garden. I made them for my children too when they were little, and, I think, for a couple of my grandchildren.

Ice Cream wasn’t available in such diverse quality or flavours as it is today: pretty much vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. Both Mr Cassmob’s mother and mine had recipes for making their own vanilla ice cream. Bearing in mind there were no ice-cream making gadgets then, it was a labour of love to make it. Of course as we got older the Mr Whippy van would drive around playing Greensleeves and hoping to get business. Talk about Pavlovian responses (smile).

A family quote our children will remember from their grandparents: Mum to dad “do you want custard, cream or ice cream“. His response was always “yes please“. Given how many miles he walked every day at work he could afford to have all three and not worry about his weight.

I found this recipe for a Raspberry Ice Cream dessert among mum’s collection but I have no recollection of it ever being made. Probably like most of us, she’d collected the recipe then decided it was too much bother.

NOW

Struggling to come up with an “I-name” food we’ve eaten in recent years I consulted the current chef whose helpful reply was “I don’t know” then “we’ve never made iguana soup”. Thus supported, diverted or frustrated, I had another trawl through my recipes and came up with these two: Indonesian Salad or Gado Gado, and Ikan Tjumi Tjumi Pakai (stuffed squid). In our early married days I made the stuffed squid a few times but I confess it all seems like too much bother these days and have only made it once or twice since.

Stupidly, my mind had been focused on individual dishes not overall cuisines. Like most people in post-war Australia, we had increasing exposure to Italian cuisine and as my best friend for many years in my teens was Italian, I learned a little about her meals. I do enjoy Italian food, but with my current allergy to rosemary, I have to be super-careful what I order. As a result, it’s probably the food type we eat the least.

Being the dessert-a-holic that I am, there were more icy desserts to be found. One of my favourites is Lemon and Pistachio Sherbert with Strawberries. I’m pretty sure my recipe came from Gourmet Traveller magazine to which I used to subscribe, but an online search confirms this one is the same. Trawling the online recipes, I wondered why I’d never made Iles Flottantes and I can only assume it was because of the custard “base”.

And if, like me, you’re none too sure about what the difference is between the various icy treats, this link is helpful. I have to say I’m pleased mum had never heard of frozen custard, and Aussies didn’t have a clue about yoghurt back in the day.

Another icy treat I enjoy on hot summer’s days is Iced Decaf Latte – it’s my go-to drink when out and about, and my local coffee shop is happy to make it in the chiller Yeti cup I got for my birthday. Winner!

NEW FOOD FARE: It’s fair to say, I think, that the only kind of lettuce we knew of in those distant days was Iceberg Lettuce. Now we have a proliferation of varieties to choose between, depending on palate and need. Travel and our post-war migration has certainly expanded our diets to include ingredients and meals unknown when I was a child.

Gadgets: My ice-cream maker used to get regular use when we had dinner parties more often but now it languishes in the bottom of a cupboard. I do remember a “gadget” in my grandmother’s kitchen – the icebox that preceded the refrigerator. I also remember the ice man coming along the street with slabs of ice that fitted in the top of the icebox.

Was Iguana on your family’s menu? Just joking!

Have Italian or Indonesian cuisines taken over your family’s meals? Did you have either as a child?

What culinary style is your favourite?

Do you love icy treats? Are they something you make at home or buy at the supermarket?

Open air dining at Jimbaran Bay, Bali. Photo P Cass 2005.
Fulfilling an ambition to eat gelati while listening to the midday church bells at San Gimignano, Chianti.

25 thoughts on “Indonesian or Italian? Icy treats!

  1. I’ve eaten ice cream ( gelato)in several countries. The best I believe was in Croatia. I couldn’t get enough. They were heavily influenced by the Venetians in the early days and have perfected the art. The most amusing was in Istanbul!! Can we ever forget the ice cream man making me up a cone in Taxim square and the associated bell ringing.

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    1. i must admit I was always very conservative with my food choices, and it took me ages as a student before I even tried a pizza,Chinese or Indian dishes and I have never had any Indonesian food. Ice cream is another matter – I have loved it from an early age. We lived near a dairy and it was big birthday treat to have an ice cream cake, though it could only be bought at the very last minute as we did not have a fridge. Holidays in Austria introduced us to the wonderful range of flavoured ice cream, but the best is from an Italian restaurant in Edinburgh – our favourite lunch date in the city.

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      1. Ooh you must share the name of the Edinburgh restaurant in the optimistic hope that we will get back to Scotland! I think over the years between our post war immigrants and our location near Asia we have become more eclectic and adventurous with food. previous to that our meals were very British.

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  2. Homemade icecream was a rare treat as a child, mum’s recipe involved condensed milk. Did you ever have Instant Pudding? I recall it being in powder form which when mixed with milk formed a gelatinous mass that sandwiched between milk coffee or nice biscuits made vanilla slice – ugh, but I do remember doing this :))

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    1. I did find a couple of ice cream recipes and think one required condensed milk…will have to check. I do t remember Instant Pudding and certainly not made like that. Can’t say it sounds delicious 😉

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  3. We used to buy ice cream occasionally from the shop when I was growing up. It came as a brick and we would have wafers with it but it was only on special occasions. The general store across the road where I caught the bus to school sold the best ice blocks ever. They were made in the old fashioned aluminium? ice cube trays and they would leave out one or maybe two if the sections so we got ice blocks about 50 or 6 inches long, wrapped in butchers paper for 3d. Mum used to give me a penny a day to buy lollies at the shop on the way to school lie all the other kids did at the bus stop but I used to save them up so I could buy an ice block in summer.

    Speaking of Mr Whippy, My uncle bought an ice cream van once. Pretty sure it was before the days of Mr Whippy. Mum said he didn’t do well at all as he felt sorry for the kids (they grew up poor) that had no money to buy an ice cream and he would give them one for free. He would then have hoards of kids following him but none buying.

    Pretty sure we ate Irish stew in winter but never Iguana 🙂 Iced vo vos too on rare occasions and then there was instant puddings at one stage but maybe that was when I was older – we didn’t like them so they didn’t frequent the pantry at all.

    Lyn

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    1. Great memories there Lyn. How restrained you were to save your pennies for ice cream in lieu of lollies. Our middle daughter used to hoard her lollies and drive her sisters mad 🙂 we used to make our ice blocks in that sort of aluminium tray too but they were just standard ice cube squares.

      Now why didn’t I think of Iced VoVos…they were so yummy. Must tell Mr Cassmob we could have had Iguana stew 😉

      How sad for your uncle but what a kind generous man he was!!

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  4. You have reminded me of the icecream treat we had occasionally. Mum made home made icecream, no icecream maker in those days. It was so good. But every now and then I would be sent to the corner shop with a deep cake baking pan to buy 5 scoops of icecream. The trick was to get back home quickly before it melted. As for Iceberg lettuce, it’s still my favourite, I’m a bit embarassed to say.

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    1. No reason to be embarrassed by Iceberg Lettuce…just not my preferred option.

      That must have been a super special treat to be able to get bought ice cream and I’ll bet you went like the wind to get home while it was frozen.

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  5. My favourite is Italian food. I’d often choose an Italian restaurant. I don’t make it often at home though, maybe the odd Spaghetti Bolognaise. You don’t have the weather for Irish stew – nothing as comforting in the cold, damp we have here in winter (spring and autumn). We always had shop-bought ice-cream on Sundays – sometimes just a slice with wafers, but often with apple or rhubarb tart, lemon meringue pie, or pavlova made by my mother.

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  6. I remember that we always had a tub of neapolitan icecream in the freezer, and we used to make our own icypoles in plastic moulds. My grandmother used to make icecream just for me when I developed a sensitivity to shop bought stuff – it was divine and I really wish I knew how she made it.

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    1. What a shame that you don’t have your grandmas recipe. I have some of mum’s you could try if you’re keen…let me know.

      It’s funny, I haven’t thought of Neapolitan ice cream in ages and then you and Alex both mentioned it.

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  7. Hi Pauleen – I love that last photo of you in Chianti. When we traveled overseas many many years ago I remember just loving the Indonesian ricestaffels (sp?) that were on offer in Amsterdam. Italian food has always been a favourite in this household. And there is a tub of neapolitan in our freezer that I am steadily working my way through as I knit and watch The Serpent on Netflix. It is such a bad show it is compelling. I finally finished it last night.

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  8. Thanks Pauleen – you’ve certainly obviously had some wonderful travels … in which taste comes to the fore. Those early days of having an ice-cream or an ice lolly … bring happy memories. Good to be here – cheers Hilary

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  9. Ice Cream is the perfect choice for letter I — and I love that photo of you with the gelati! This post brings back memories of my dad’s old-time ice cream maker. Once every summer, he’d get it out and make peach ice cream for all the kids on the street — which involved turning a metal bucket inside a wooden bucket filled with ice and rock salt. Word would travel the street, and pretty soon there’d be a mob of kids watching him crank away in our back yard until it was time to serve. Fun!

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