Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I Like Vanilla Ice Cream

     I was watching a rerun of Breaking Bad the other night, and after one of the ad breaks a couple of the actors came on and offered a few comments about what made the show special to them. Bryan Cranston, who plays chemistry teacher/coke cooker Walter White, says one of the things he likes about the show is that it's not for everybody. "If you like vanilla ice cream," he says, "then Breaking Bad is not for you."

     What he's insinuating, of course, is that vanilla ice cream is for boring people who have mundane taste, who like things that are bland and insipid. And Breaking Bad is anything but bland and insipid. It's bold, edgy, violent, sometimes downright shocking.

     I agree with Cranston about Breaking Bad. It's not for everybody. B wouldn't watch it. She doesn't like violence in movies or TV shows. She doesn't like stories that are creepy or scary, or that glorify immorality. And Breaking Bad is all of the above.

     But I do not agree about the vanilla ice cream comparison. Vanilla ice cream is for people who have, not boring, mundane taste, but fine discriminating taste. People who are sensitive and can appreciate delicate, understated flavors. For vanilla is a subtle flavor, but in that subtlety it is exotic and haunting. After all, the vanilla bean, like the cocoa bean, originates in the tropics, where the trade winds blow, the palm trees sway, strange animals lurk in the forest, and drums beat in the distance.

     Chocolate ice cream is more like Breaking Bad. It, too, is exotic. But while vanilla is soft and seductive, chocolate is more obvious. It's strong, dark, with a bolder flavor.

     People like Bryan Cranston look down their nose at vanilla, passing it off as routine and uninspiring. But most people disagree with him. Virtually every survey ever taken concludes that vanilla is the favorite flavor among ice cream consumers. The food channel ranks vanilla the favorite of 29% of ice cream lovers, followed by chocolate at only 9%; and butter pecan and strawberry at 5%.

     Meanwhile, Baskin-Robbins reports that its top-selling flavor is -- you guessed it -- vanilla. Followed by chocolate, mint chocolate chip, then pralines and cream.

     One reason vanilla is so popular is that it can also play a supporting role. With pie or cake, for example, as a la mode. But vanilla ice cream is also strong enough to take on the leading role, with other flavors in supporting positions. Vanilla ice cream makes a wonderful summer treat when topped with blueberries, strawberries or raspberries.

     I like peach ice cream. But I like vanilla ice cream with fresh peach slices better.

     But most of the time I like my vanilla ice cream straight up. Nothing in it, or on it. Just the pure thing. Neat.

     Now, there's nothing that says a person can't like different things, for their different moods. I also like mint chocolate chip ice cream, and pralines and cream. I used to like coffee ice cream -- until I tried vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of espresso over the top. Boy, is that good!

     But I cannot abide peppermint ice cream, which tastes medicinal to me. And I'm not much of a fan of cookie dough ice cream. Whoever ginned that one up must have thought people can't taste anything at all unless you bomb them with everything you've got. Kind of like Breaking Bad. So what are you? Are you a Breaking Bad fan, or do you tilt toward vanilla?

     Or . . . there's no reason why you can't like both the subtlety of vanilla ice cream, but then on occasion, for a change of pace, also like the boldness of chocolate or mint chocolate chip. Or even (gag!) cookie dough.

     For there's no law that says you can't like vanilla ice cream, and also like Breaking Bad -- as I realized the other night while I was riveted to an episode of the in-your-face drama, while at the same time enjoying the refreshing summer delight of vanilla ice cream.


Meryl Baer said...

Not a Breaking Bad fan, but love my chocolate ice cream…Vanilla in a pinch. With hot fudge on top.

DJan said...

Coffee and mint chocolate chip are my favorites, but I find that the quality of the ice cream makes a huge difference. We have two local ice cream makers that have the best vanilla I have ever tasted (Edaleen's and Mallard's) and they can hold their own.

Breaking Bad? It was one of the best shows on TV ever, in my opinion. It swept the Emmys last night, deservedly so. :-)

Olga Hebert said...

I have never watched Breaking Bad so I can't comment one way or the other. I don't care for violent scenes though so I probably wouldn't add it to my Netflix list.
I agree with your assessment of vanilla ice cream though--always my favorite if it is real vanilla.

Florence said...

I don't like Breaking Bad but love Blue Bell Chocolate Chip Ice Cream. I suppose that means I am confused. LOL!!

Anonymous said...

I watched one episode of Breaking Bad and several of Orange is the New Black for the life of me I can't understand the appeal of either, now House of Cards to me was riveting in the performances of Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright and other actors, oh, my goodness sakes, just mesmerizing..Vanilla Ice Cream is in our home all the time, my husband of over 40 years can polish a 1.75 carton of Tillamook Vanilla in one day with fudge, I take a tiny amount..It is great..to each their own...I think Breaking Bad was so successful is there are not movies like that on regular tv but many are coming close, too bad one had to have Netflix streaming to get Breaking Bad and Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, most are on cable which we don't have and never will!

rosaria williams said...

Oh no! Did you read the story about a match-making company that paired people who were/and were not compatible (self-identified traits,btw.) and the results were the same?

Stephen Hayes said...

The best ice cream I ever had was on the island of Moorea. The vanilla beans were growing everywhere and that ice cream was so rich in flavor. I still remember it, and I'm usually addicted to chocolate.

Anonymous said...

I like any flavor if the quality of the ice cream is excellent. As for TV, I watch it only if David turns it on.

Anonymous said...

A man's choice of foods has always been an indicator to me of how they will perform in bed. If a man takes me to an expensive Asian infusion restaurant and orders chow mein, I pass on seeing him ever again. Ditto if we go to an ice cream place and he orders vanilla. I know it's going to be a boring night in bed.
Now, show me a man who orders up Jamaican Brittle Rum Raisin Crunch Heath Bar and I know that evening is going to be whole lotta fun!
Never fails!

Tabor said...

Give me ice cream. I do not care what flavor it is. I have not discriminating taste when it comes to fat and sugar!!

Gabbygeezer said...

I was a vanilla fan until the transforming moment--I tasted butter pecan. It was true love. Shortly after that I fell out of bed, but the two events didn't seem connected.

Barb said...

Breaking Bad. Second Best TV Drama. Ever. Only topped by the Wire (and its not me, every TV critic agrees). I like vanilla, I also like Safeway's gourmet brand of salted caramel ice cream, which is to die for.

Jono said...

Haven't gotten around to Breaking Bad yet, but I love a fine quality vanilla anything.

Janette said...

I used to like anything different. Now a great vanilla from my local dairy is what I crave. I might add a topping if I have an extra twenty minutes to sit out and enjoy the cows walking by.
Life, and ice cream, is funny that way, isn't it?