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Cool treats to beat summer heat

Around the table

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POSTED: August 21, 2013 7:00 p.m.
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Sherbet is one of many cool confections that can be used to combat August’s heat and humidity.

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I often consider adjusting our thermostat because the humidity makes my wife’s comfort-zone temperature of 75 degrees seem like 95. Sometimes, though, I fall back on that old, reliable cooling device — ice cream.
Whether it’s traditional ice cream or Italian gelato, sherbet or sorbet, or the increasingly popular frozen yogurt and smoothies, there’s a cool treat for each of us, even those who are lactose intolerant.
According to “Dr. Gourmet,” Timothy S. Harlan, M.D., ice cream, sherbet and frozen yogurt contain dairy products, but sorbet does not. On his website, the good doctor responded to a question about lactose-intolerant individuals, saying they should be able to safely eat sorbet because it’s made of fruit, water and sugar — no dairy products.
Although I’m not lactose intolerant, if it’s cold and sweet, I’ll gladly eat it on a hot August afternoon.
Ice-cream products have other drawbacks, though.
I was pitifully skinny in high school, so my track coach encouraged me to put on weight by having a milkshake every day. Everybody knows a milkshake must be accompanied with a bacon cheeseburger and fries. To this day, I can’t go to B&D Burgers without ordering a chocolate shake to go with my burger. And yes, I’ve gained a lot more weight than my track coach wanted.
If anybody would know about the history of ice cream, it would be the International Dairy Association. That organization said ice cream’s origins go back to the second century B.C. The idea of ice-cream chariots didn’t catch on for several more years.
Meanwhile, Alexander the Great is said to have enjoyed a snow-and-ice mixture flavored with honey and nectar. There supposedly is a biblical reference that King Solomon enjoyed fruity iced drinks during harvest, but I can’t find it. Folks always say “It’s in the Bible somewhere.” I think it’s in the Bible that you’re not supposed to say “it’s in the Bible” unless you can quote book, chapter and verse. And don’t take it out of context, either.
About 1,000 years after Solomon, Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe for something much like sherbet. This recipe supposedly evolved into ice cream over the centuries. Since they didn’t have the aforementioned ice-cream trucks, ice-cream shops or a corner grocery store, ice cream didn’t reach the general public until around 1660.
Now we eat ice cream, sherbet, etc., by the tons with some of us eating way more than others. I love super-creamy butter pecan (pronounced butter pee-can, not puh-con) or peach ice cream. Both are bad for my figure, though, so I tend to buy more sherbet than actual ice cream.
I like lime most but usually buy rainbow sherbet with its swirls of lime, pineapple and orange. Stores such as Publix have their own brands of sherbet that aren’t your typical flavors. I buy one called a melon sherbet, which includes swirls of watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. Another one is a mixture of peach and mango. Both are sweet and refreshingly cool.
When it’s about 98 degrees outside and my heat pump struggles to keep the indoor temperature below 80, I know it does no good to mess with the thermostat. Most of the time, it’s not convenient to remove my shirt, shoes and socks just to cool off, especially at work.
That’s when a bowl of sherbet, a frozen sorbet fruit bar or a trip to the nearest Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt shop is just what the doctor ordered — or, at least, he should have ordered.

Email Murray at rmurray@coastalcourier.com.

 

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