The closest thing to an addiction that I know is my fondness for ice cream. But, it must be good ice cream. Butterfat content is important, as well as high-quality ingredients. Of course, I also enjoy sherbet/sorbet, again if it is good. There is a shop in a town on the Italian Riviera, to which I would drive (about 10 hours) just to savor a portion of their peach granita.
One of my earliest memories—if not the earliest—is being fed ice cream on the living room sofa, after returning home from having my tonsils removed; I might have been four. Another fond childhood memory is the ice cream truck, which would arrive regularly on our street during summer months ringing its bell. All children not locked in the cellar would run to meet it, even if they did not have the minimum entry fee of 5 cents. That was the cost of a popsicle—cherry, grape, or orange. (That’s right, children: 5 cents!) A rare treat, if one had managed to conjure up an extra nickel, was a creamsicle: heaven on a stick. Some kids had to have a fudgesicle; but, even at a young age, chocolate did not appeal to me. Money was not something children had in those days, so coming up with a nickel as often as the ice cream truck rang its siren song was not easy. My mother tried to entice me with self-made popsicles (Koolade poured into forms and put in the freezer), but nothing could compete with the magic from that truck.
Before I lost interest in what is basically a boring sport, my father took me to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox. The best part was the ice cream vendor, who wandered through the stands chanting a verse I have never forgotten:
I scream, you scream,
We all scream for ice cream.
My fondest memories of my grandmother are our trips to Brighams ice cream shop, where she would buy me an ice cream soda (vanilla soda with peppermint stick ice cream) or a ice cream cone sprinkled with jimmies (There was a huge bowl filled with jimmies, in which the clerk dunked the cone). Of course, any ice cream shop was a treat, but too much money was involved to go alone. I must have looked forward to the day when I would have an income sufficient enough to support my addiction. At some point, I discovered Friendlys, and I have been making pilgrimages ever since. I have even introduced my children to its enticing offer, and they succumb to the same need to pilgrimage (my daughter would die for an orange cooler). It is one of the few aspects that lure me back to the country of my birth.
Outside of Italy, consistent good ice cream is difficult to find in Europe. Laws in Germany restrict butterfat content and prevent stuff that looks like ice cream from being appealing (except in emergencies...which happen often). There are plenty of Italian ice salons in Germany, which will do in a pinch (Spaghetti Eis is rather good—vanilla ice cream forced through a sieve to shape it into noodles, topped with strawberry sauce and coconut). Good ice cream can be fond at better restaurants in France, but how often can one do that? It’s enough to make me want to scream...