I scream because of ice cream

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Today I stopped by Three Twins for a post-lunch treat. (This is my weekly ritual with Laura -- we go to Oxbow Public Market, where we order salads from Taylor's and then indulge in a scoop of ice cream for dessert.)

I like Three Twins because they always have interesting flavors -- cardamom, or strawberry ice cream that's made with balsamic.

And today they had tobiko ice cream. Yes, that's right -- ice cream made with those teeny-tiny, bright orange fish eggs that usually adorn sushi rolls. I like sushi and trying new food combinations, and I love savory flavors that are made into desserty items, so I immediately asked for a taste.

And started raving: This was fabulous stuff! Imagine the richest, most voluptuous, decadent vanilla base, with just barely a hint of saltiness (those who know me know I think salty-sweet is the best thing ever) and a very slight little crunch. Loved it!

I was going on and on about just how good the ice cream was when this older couple walked up behind me. The woman heard me praising the ice cream and announced:

"You must really like it because you're Chinese."

Wow. Oh, wow. Oh, good fucking wow.

I thought I left this stuff behind when I moved to the Bay Area. But apparently, I was wrong, and some people need a little educating:

1. I am not Chinese. I am Filipino. Asia is not made up of one single, all-encompassing country. In addition to China and the Philippines, there is also Korea (north and south -- oh my!), Thailand, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Burma (I don't want to call it Myanmar), Laos -- the list goes on and on!

2. Tobiko is not typically used in Chinese cooking; as I stated several paragraphs ago, you usually see it at the sushi bar, and sushi is Japanese. (Surprise!) Therefore, even if I were Chinese, this still wouldn't mean I would automatically like tobiko ice cream or even know what the hell tobiko was.

3. In fact, while this may be hard to fathom, just because one is Asian, this doesn't automatically mean one enjoys any sort of Asian food at all. I personally don't like pancit, a Filipino noodle dish, even though it was served at every single family party I ever went to throughout my childhood. (I know, it's extremely odd that I don't like it, and I will probably now get hate mail from Filipinos. But my point is that you don't have to like something even if it is supposed to be part of your food heritage.)

4. Tobiko ice cream was not created exclusively for the Asian customer's palate. A quick look at Napa's 2006 census estimate shows that only 5.9% of Napans are of Asian descent. Talk about niche marketing! I am pretty sure that the owner of Three Twins (who is not Asian, by the way) did not have this very small audience in mind when he came up with this recipe.

5. And finally: Is Tobiko ice cream really that weird? I mean, there is gumball ice cream (which I never really understood how to eat because you aren't supposed to swallow gum, so you'd have to stop eating the ice cream to chew the gumballs and then spit them out and this whole process would take forever and your ice cream would melt), avocado ice cream, lavender ice cream, even garlic ice cream (those of you who've been to the Gilroy Garlic Festival or the Stinking Rose know this is really good stuff). Any of these flavors could be considered "weird" to somebody! Seriously, if someone likes the damn ice cream and wants to eat it, let them!

Anyway, what pissed me off further was that this woman wouldn't try the ice cream. I told her (after explaining that I wasn't Chinese) she really should, but she absolutely wouldn't even think of it. So not only was she ignorant about race and culture, she was totally closed-minded about food.

And for that, I have nothing but the deepest of pity.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a really smart, organized answer.

You must be intelligent because you're Chinese.

Just kidding! I love you.
And sadly, this proves one thing: there are dumbasses everywhere. even at adorable bay area gourmet food outposts. sigh. i would totally try (and probably love) tobiko ice cream.


Kate said...

This is why I hate people. At least we can seek comfort in ice cream!

Michaela said...

And cats. Cats are also comforting.

Christina said...

Wow, Filipinas are really fiery!! Are all Asians like that? Must be that Latin blood...wait...I'm confused...

You're awesome, Michaela! I love this whole posting.

And while I consider myself slightly educated on different races and cultures, I too would not be able to try that ice cream. Sorry. Doesn't have any chocolate in it.


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