What does childhood taste like? Ice cream of course…

I don’t have any old photos of me with the ice cream so the newspaper will have to do.

In less than a week’s time I will be visiting Poland for the first time since December 2004. I have been thinking a lot about my childhood there and the relationship I have with Poland and I thought I’d share an old piece that I wrote a few years ago during one of my less successful blog attempts…

“The other day I was watching television and something made me think back on the ice cream we used to buy in Poland as kids. It was called Calypso and  it had the face of a young African boy – similar to those offensive 1930s/40s colonial cartoons – printed on the silver wrapper. The ice cream resembled a block of butter – a single rectangular block of ice cream wrapped in foil. No stick. No cup.

This is the new version of the ice cream - still with the rather offensive (in my opinion) illustrations. Courtesy of http://www.lodmor.com.pl

I think there were three or four flavours – chocolate, vanilla, vanilla-choc and vanilla-with-strange-jelly-bits. I remember an occasion where by sheer bad luck I ended up with one of those – I stood outside the local store where I had bought my ice cream and to my horror I discovered bright bits of green, yellow and red blemishing the vanilla. For a six or seven year old true disappointments in life are for the most part limited to exactly such disasters; however even as an adult you still feels that same dismay when you realize that you picked up the wrong flavour of chocolate or chips ten minutes after you’ve left the shop.

A quick google search has revealed Calypsos are still around, but from what I have heard they are nothing but poorly executed imitations which offer only a false hope of being able to tap into one’s childhood. The wrapper has been updated and they have a whole lot of new flavours – the jelly monster is amazingly still available.

Childhood memories are precious, in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Kundera writes the following: “Not long ago, I caught myself experiencing a most incredible sensation. Leafing through a book on Hitler, I was touched by some of his portraits: they reminded me of my childhood. I grew up during the war; several members of my family perished in Hitler’s concentration camps; but what were their deaths compared with the memories of a lost period in my life, a period that would never return?”

A part of me really wishes I could have one more opportunity to taste an old-school Calypso with its smooth and rich creaminess, but another part of me realises that my memory has created a taste which cannot be reproduced in life, and would probably disappoint. I remember the first time I watched Scooby Doo after a gap of about 6 years – I could not believe that this rubbish had been one of my favourite shows to watch. This of course is not true for everything but there are some memories I think I should leave high up in the cabinet, behind protective glass, rather than risk taking them down to see all the dust and cracks.”

This is my granny who I will be visiting next week. I'm sure she will try to feed me lots and lots of Polish food.
Smurf shirt - check!
I’m sure my mom will want to kill me for putting this up – 80s hair and sunglasses – check!

The photos are all from old slides that my mom converted to digital a few years ago. I used to love looking at slides on the slide machine. It always felt so special and exciting.

17 thoughts on “What does childhood taste like? Ice cream of course…”

  1. Loved this piece Katie! Absolutely agree with you about keeping some memories high up there behind glass. We often are too quick to relive memories only to discover that our ‘then’ selves loved them and created those experiences.
    Enjoy your trip. Your mum’s here. Gonna show her the pics (not sure if she’s seen them yet). And yes, I do just want to see her face when she sees them!!!

      1. She laughed so hard!! Out loud! But she was clearly proud that there were showcased so well…

  2. Wonderful piece of writing and thinking. This post enabled me to travel through certain paths which have been long untrodden. The child in me has never died but the paths of childhood I forget to traverse.

    Joy always,
    Susan

    1. If you’re game we can make pierogi when we’re both back from our tarvels. My mom and sister make them all the time – they are just very labour intensive so I will need a second set of hands. (And on the tan, the part of Poland where my granny is from used to have a very large gypsy population – once my mom left me in a pram outside the shop and when she came out some woman asked her if the gypsy baby was hers)

  3. When I was two I lived in Slovenia for a year and for some reason the only things I remember was having soup with these puffed up cracker things.They were not oyster crackers that you can buy in America, they were their own breed of soup magic. I’m traveling back to Slovenia this August for the first time in 18 years and I can’t wait to have those crackers. I hope your ice cream is everything you want it to be. 🙂

    1. Hi Miranda, thank you for sharing such a special story. I haven’t heard great things about the ice cream but who knows, maybe I will get lucky. Do let me know how the soup and crackers work out. All the best

  4. I remember that some time ago my Mom bought herself this type of ‘ice-cream sandwich’ and said it remained her of childhood, but it’s not the same taste anymore (she was a bit disappointed too).
    I wonder if it’s the same taste you’re craving 😛
    Calypso were just bare ice-cream block? Or an ice-cream sandwiched between two pieces of a dry wafer/waffle pastry?

    1. Hi Patrycja – the one I was thinking of when I wrote this is just a block of ice cream, no wafer but Calypso may have had one like that too. The taste of nostalgia always taints that of reality I’m afraid.

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