I’m a big fan of soft-serve ice cream, I think it’s pretty much the definition of the perfect summer treat.
Japan, fortunately, agrees with me, though they just call the stuff “Soft Cream” and leave it at that.
This last trip to Japan, I ran into a development in Soft Cream technology that, well, is probably nothing new but which I found to be bloody brilliant.
Basically, instead of having banks of different ice cream machines, each one dispensing a different flavor, they’ve put the actual ice cream into these little styrofoam cartridge things that each hold a single serving, so you can have very small stalls that nonetheless offer a nice variety.
For example, this sign taken from one of the two soft cream vendors at the Great Buddha at Kamakura:
or this truck from Ueno Park, which was selling seven varieties of soft cream in addition to quite a rainbow spectrum of shaved ice:
Anyway, faced with the panoply of new flavors, I saw it as my duty to expand into the Worlds Beyond Vanilla.
For example, sweet-potato-flavored soft cream, which was fantastic:
and also purple, or purpple if you’d prefer. Apparently, in Japan, purple is the color of sweet potato, and this summer seemed to have a LOT of sweet potato flavored products for sale.
Also, sesame, which was a little less fantastic on the first bite but which grew on me by the end of the cone:
and they’ve even cracked the swirl problem. In a display of mad-scientist-level-genius, they PRE SWIRL their soft cream before packing it into the aforementioned styrofoam cartridges:
Ahh, Japan. For all your problems, you do have your good points.