Honey, do I look fat in this ice cream?

February 9, 2010

This may be difficult for you to comprehend, but journalism is so much more than free lunches and signing autographs for adoring font bunnies.

We journalists don’t like to make a big deal out of it, but the truth is that hours of research go into every story. Or sometimes just minutes, depending on the speed of your Internet connection.

My own research has seen me spend an entire weekend stuffed into a car with cheerleaders. OK, I was driving them to a tournament, but the car was full. And they were cheerleaders. And I did write about them. And then had to go through the entire process again the next season when a whole new crop joined the squad. We’re talking long hours of intense scrutiny here, folks.

Then there was the time I spent 14 hours at the side of a hotdog vendor outside a supermarket. So I could write a story about the day in the life of a, well, hotdog vendor. This is what I learned: Yes, you can eat too many hotdogs. And, no, you do not want to know what goes into them.

It was this dedication to ferreting out the facts — and the obvious success of my Daily Photo Project — that had me contemplating doing a Daily New Zealand Ice Cream Taste Test. This would see me personally sample every flavour of ice cream produced in this nifty little country, and report back on their degree of yumminess.

Unfortunately — or fortunately, depending whether or not you are the part of my body in charge of producing insulin — a job offer to return to the Cook Islands meant this projet melted into a puddle of not-gonna-happen before I could even make a decent start. As it turned out, all I managed to sample are the flavours pictured on this page. They are a mere flick of the tongue compared to the mouthful of Scrumptious Delight I had planned to serve up each day.

I like ice cream. Unfortunately, like its sister — the dark, sultry siren known as Chocolate — ice cream makes my clothes shrink. But that is the price a true journalist like myself is willing to pay.

I also like things in my ice cream. Which is why Fudge Chunks and Chips is my first choice at Baskin Robbins. Which is why Cookies’n’Cream and Goody Goody Gumdrops send shivers down my back even as they freeze my brain.

Now this project will have to wait until I return from Rarotonga. Actually, it was while living in Raro that Viking Woman and I had our first taste of New Zealand ice cream. The little shop next to our house stocked Magnum bars and they quickly grew adept at whispering our names every time we passed the freezer.

We became hooked; we needed a daily fix. You know that scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark, the one where Indiana Jones reaches back for his fedora just as the stone wall is about to drop into place? That was us one night, pretty much sliding in under the roller door on our bellies as the shopgirl was trying to close the place. Junkies do those sorts of things . . . and then later refer to it as research.

What makes New Zealand ice cream so much better than anything else in the world? I don’t really know. Maybe there’s less pollution here. Maybe it’s the whole GE-free attitude. Maybe there is such a thing as a contented cow.

All I know is that I’m grateful for the texture and the taste and the extra layer of fat that will keep me warm come winter. In fact, since I’m pretty much finished packing, I’m going to head to the nearest paddock and bestow a great big thank-you hug on a cow. I’m going to choose a chunky one.

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