It seems only appropriate today, as the temperature creeps over 110 F (bouncing between that and 114 F this weekend—the longest it has been this hot in Arizona for consecutive days since 1989, lucky us…) to reminisce about a particularly fun Icelandic ice cream ritual, as well as a particularly awesome ice cream that Mark and I shared on our last day in Iceland.
The ice cream in question, called gamli ísinn, or “old (style) ice cream,” was brought to my attention during my first semester, but we didn’t manage to make it over to the beloved Ísbúð Vesturbæjar where it’s sold, until our last day for some reason. I’m not sure why this is, since it is right around the corner from the westside pool, but there you have it. Now that we have sampled the offerings, however, I imagine we will be much more frequent customers next year.
So: why is this “old” ice cream so-called, you ask? Honestly, I have no idea. But it is thicker than your usual soft serve, and at least to my palette, tastes a lot more of water. (I think Mark found this a strange taste assessment at the time, but this article in The Grapevine seems to confirm my suspicions.) If this doesn’t sound particularly great to you, let me just say, for the record, that it is. Particularly when you ask for the old ice cream, blended (there’s a name for this, but I forget it…), with a bunch of ingredients mixed in, much like a Dairy Queen Blizzard.
Oh, and the small size, which the nice girl at the counter, warned us came in a very deceiving cup size? It’s the size of a small pine tree. Or a baby’s head. Or a gigantic Icelandic Easter egg. However you like to hyperbolize, it’s huge.
Huge right? Our first old ice cream, I should clarify, is purple here because one of my mixed in ingredients (along with shredded coconut and chocolate covered licorice pieces, which I didn’t realize were licorice when I picked them, but ended up being delish) was fresh blueberries. The color alone made that choice worthwhile.
Mark and I were able to get one of the four stools by the window in the very small shop to sit and enjoy our ice cream mountain, but this would probably be a feat during the summer. What would likely be more common (if we had a car, at least) was what we observed two ladies who got their ice cream just before us do: precariously balance their ice cream mountains on the way back to their car, where they then sat to eat.
I’m told by a friend that this ritual—going to the ice cream shop and then sitting out front in your car and eating—is such a regular one, particularly among teens who don’t have many other options for late-night hangouts—that it has a name: the Ísbíltúr, or ice cream-car-trip. Not so unlike what teens do on Friday nights the world over, probably, but with a delightfully specific name.