Russia and America’s (Frozen) Common Ground

Perhaps international talks between two world powers, Russia and America, would best be conducted over a bowl of ice cream? It seems that both cultures have a huge love of this frozen dessert. Besides celebrating our independence, July also happens to be National Ice Cream Month, a perfect time for Barrack Obama to invite Vladimir Vladimirovich (Russia’s President Putin) for an ice cream sundae and then delve into “harder issues.” Negotiations would clearly be on the sweeter side, and what’s frozen must melt.

Here are the facts: The U.S. produces more than 1.50 billion gallons of ice cream a year, vanilla being the most popular. Premium ice creams – those with higher fat content an less aeration- are the most popular. America’s love of ice cream goes at least as far back as to our first president, George Washington. In the summer of 1790  George spent $200 on this creamy delight. (Martha, what was he thinking?!) But it didn’t stop there. Ice cream was also enjoyed immensely by Presidents Jefferson and Madison. President Jefferson, an avid collector of French recipes, even had his very own favorite recipe:  www.americaslibrary.gov/jb/progress/jb_progress_icecream_2_e.html

Let’s take look at the other side of the world: In Russia over half the population are ice cream enthusiasts and consume enormous amounts of the stuff. About 887 rubles a year per capita are dispensed from the household budget for ice cream. One of the most popular companies today, headquartered in Moscow, is Chistaya Linea (Clean Line), which alone produces 100 tons of ice cream a day!

As for flavors, it seems the Russian choice is ample but more modest than ours. There are about 10 different flavors, compared to our 39 plus, which are manufactured by some 300 companies. However, when it comes to creaminess Russia wins hands down. It seems the Russians like their ice cream to have a higher fat content. I am not sure how they regard low fat frozen yogurt.

Quality is key, and to keep theirs high, Chistaya Linea owns their own dairies near the Russian capital from which they receive daily deliveries. The milk is inspected rigorously before the super fresh, super rich and super lovely ice cream bars roll off the company production lines, onto trucks and off to Moscow and beyond.

You can try making Jefferson’s ice cream since there is still a lot of summer left, or you can make mine from The Russian Sweet Tooth .Old Russian Ice Cream Maker Below, right, is an illustration from my grandmother’s Molokhovets, the most famous Russian cookbook of its time. Most likely this was the kind of ice cream maker Thomas Jefferson would have used. No problem with his recipe, but you may want to update your appliance! On the other hand, it works and is a great way to teach children that you don’t have to have much equipment to make delicious ice cream. So Barrack, does Vlady get whipped cream and a cherry?

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