Like many parisian pâtisseries, mine makes an assortment of ice creams and sorbets to sell in the summertime. The chef’s been on vacation, and the vendeuses have been pestering me to replenish their ice cream supply. There were a few problems with this. First of all, we’ve been undergoing some minor remodeling at the shop, and our ice cream machine got relocated to the pantry closet in the shuffle. Someone seemed to think that was an ideal place for it, but as the pantry lacked the proper electrical and water hookups, the machine has been collecting dust most of the summer. The electrician finally showed up on Monday and the machine was, in theory, ready to go this week.
First there was the mystery tube to nowhere. It turned out to be the exit tube for the water. (Why this machine needs so much water, I’m not sure. I asked, and everyone just seemed surprised by the question. The main response I got was along the lines of “Well, you shouldn’t ask yourself those kinds of things.” Welcome to France.) The tube was not long enough to reach the drainpipe. So we had to remove it, take it across the street to the hardware store, and get another one, similar but longer. Then install it. This was yesterday. Obviously, no ice cream got made.
Today, I spent all morning making the various ice cream and sorbet bases, aided in part by an apprentice who will henceforward be referred to as “Lil’ Hipster.” While I made the anglaises for vanilla, praliné, pistachio, coffee, and chocolate ice creams as well as mixing up lemon, pear, passionfruit, and banana sorbet fodder, he made the bases for apricot, pineapple, white peach, and coconut sorbets. (This was, of course, after three of us – me, Lil’ Hipster, and the baker – searched high and low for the powdered glucose and eventually had to call the chef and wake him up to find out where it was hidden.) I relished having the chance to tell the kid to leave the kirsch out of the pineapple sorbet, because rum makes much more sense. I was delighted to be able to make calls like “let’s use toasted coconut in the sorbet, instead of the white stuff!” Up until lunchtime, everything was going swimmingly.
Then I decided to put one of the sorbets in to churn. Twenty five minutes later, it was still liquid. (Usually, the machine freezes a much larger batch of ice cream in about twenty.) After wasting my time asking the baker and bugging the chef again, I noticed that the valve on the water input pipe looked closed. I opened it, and was rewarded with a splash of water on my feet. Yesterday’s new pipe had not been properly attached. At this point I found myself asking the Universe, “Why? Why don’t you want me to make ice cream?” I knelt down in the puddle and tightened the fastener until opening the valve no longer produced a gush of water on the floor. And tried one more time.
This time, the lemon sorbet froze in a record six minutes! Hooray! I can still get all the sorbets done this afternoon! And I did. The ice creams will be done tomorrow, plus I ordered more fruit purée so I can make strawberry, raspberry, and sour cherry sorbets. In case you’re wondering, and want to stop by for a scoop, the best flavors so far are coconut, passionfruit, and white peach. Banana is my least favorite. The lemon is super tart, if you’re into that kind of thing.
One last thing, about the title. Glacier is the French word for someone who makes ice cream. As per usual, there is no feminine form of the word as such. Glacière means icebox. Although I like the second definition given here, translated into English it reads: “machine for making ice cream.”* That’s me.
*Ok, I’ve done a little creative translation – the words for ice and ice cream are the same in French. Confusing much? Also, big bonus points to anyone who can tell me the Homer Simpson quote I am thinking of now.
On this day in 2009: Put the Lime in the Coconut
Originally published on Croque-Camille.