Considering how corn is classified as either a grain or a vegetable, the idea of making ice cream with it is rather mindblowing but is also incredibly delicious.
Sweetcorn ice cream – it’s one of those things whose mere taste is completely, uniquely Southeast Asian. I remember how we’d go to either Singapore or Malaysia and find tubs of the stuff in the freezer section of our local Cold Storage; it would be there, sitting with other equally regional, equally unique flavors – durian, jackfruit, and even mangosteen.
There is just something wonderful about this vividly yellow frozen treat that screams “Summer!” like no other. When I was a wee kid, during those happy halcyon days before life at school pretty much ruined everything for me, we’d have a half-gallon of Magnolia sweetcorn ice in the freezer during the summer.
There was just something about the rich, buttery-tasting cream – a taste akin most closely to present-day kettle corn with its sweet-salty character – studded with whole corn kernels that made this particular frozen dessert stand out against more common flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and that overly-sweet, weak-in-the-wrist dross that is what passes for mocha-flavored ice cream in this part of the world. Your local sorbetero (ice cream vendor, the man with the pushcart and bell) could either heap the stuff in a plain waffle cone, a smooth-surfaced sugar cone, or even – and this remains one of the best ways to eat in in my personal opinion – chuck scoops of it into a split sweet bun.
Today, Magnolia is still the brand of choice in our household, though Arce Dairy also makes quite a tasty version. (Not enough corn kernels, though.) I don’t need a bun with which to enjoy my sweetcorn ice. All I need to do is lump a couple scoops into a small bowl, curl up on the living room couch with David Nicholls’s Starter for Ten (my current reading material of choice, though I’ve seen the flick), and taste that golden, slightly vegetal, buttery sweetness whilst listening to the hum of cicadas just outside the house – and then I’d know that summer’s arrived, at last.