Kicking and screaming....for chocolate sauce??

When we moved to the States over three decades ago, I got sucked into American pop culture. Just because that's all there was. I mean, we moved from Northern Italy to Big L in East Texas. In the 70's. Kicking and screaming all the way.

Texas in the 70's was not the Texas of the 21st century. Especially, East Texas. Sometimes I think East Texas still isn't quite in the 21st century, but that's part of its charm, n'est-ce pas? But at 16, it was anything but charming.

My first day in my new high school I was fielding questions, prompted by the overly anxious world history teacher to a sea of typical bored adolescents, suspicious of this girl from "where's she from??" who just might be interested in stealing the star football player from the voluptuous, but highly insecure, cheerleader. No, of all things, I had, up till this point, actually enjoyed school for pure academic reasons and hadn't considered that social activities might be the sole reason for attending?? Thanks, but no thanks, I wasn't interested in Mr. Muscles in his tight jeans and cowboy boots or in high-kicking my way through high school in a white-fringed green bolero and tutu, white go-go boots, a cowboy hat, and toy pistol.

"Do they drive cars there?" someone asked.

"What kind of clothes do they wear?" ventured another.

Sigh. It was pure infanticide. How could my father have brought us to wilt away in these hinterlands?! I now understood why the history teacher was anxious: Finally someone in class who understood that the Roman empire really and truly existed and preceded the guy on the packaging of Roman meal bread.

I kicked and screamed my way through high school in Big L.

There were no "foreign food" restaurants in Big L other than the El Chicos and the token Chinese place, which always looked like a B-movie set that got left behind. The former served meals that seemed like they'd been scooped off the frozen dinner trays onto your plate, and garnished with the sprinkling of shredded iceberg, and the latter served everything coated in a garish, sweet and sour red sauce.

Oh, and there was the occasional tamale place where my dad would buy himself a dozen tamales. He was the only one in our family who ate them. I think I never quite trusted that they weren't made with roadkill, or someone's missing family pet. They always smelled really good, spicy and corn-y, but I couldn't get beyond the vision I still had of those canned tamales that Daddy would buy at the commissary on post, heat up and devour. They were just so "wrong" -- nothing edible should slide out of a can the way those babies did!! With that little "pffuoph!!" sound when they eased out.

Every day after school, I did the stereotypical teenage routine: Plopped my books on the table, opened the fridge, stood there staring for a few minutes, then slammed the door shut. Went to my room, put away my books, turned on the TV, and headed back into the kitchen to check if anything "edible" had miraculously materialized in the fridge since my last inspection.

A few sighs and head-scratches later, I'd pull out some leftovers, maybe a slice of my mom's homemade pizza, or Reisauflauf, a sort of rice souffle. Remember, this was Anno 1973 PM, pre-microwave (and microwavable food), so afternoon snacks had to be something that could be eaten cold. Sometimes I'd grab the saute pan, toss in a buttered tortilla, heat it and roll it up with some chutney and sour cream. Or a heaping bowl of ice cream topped with some Magic Shell....

And then contentedly plop myself down for some episodes of Gilligan or the Brady Bunch. Ah, time to relax. Yep, and I'll admit that I loved those shows. The problems the Brady kids had and all those silly attempts Gilligan and his shipmates made to flee the island and a myriad of pirates were such sweet escape. Sometimes there was even an afternoon movie on, with beautiful star-crossed lovers and their (truly) impossible options. I'd get so engrossed in this heartrending distraction that the noise of cracking through the Magic Shell, or even chewing, was often too loud.

"Shhhhh!!!" I'd shush my mom if she happened to interrupt during such fragile and dramatic TV moments. "Can't it wait till the commercial?!"

Ah, commercials during a show -- unheard of growing up in Europe. At first I thought they were the greatest thing since sliced bread -- catchy tunes, great way to get to the loo without missing a beat of the show, time to dig in to my snack. That love affair was short lived. Now I'm thinking of letting my cable subscription go -- all because of commercials.
For lunch today, we had sweet potato vermicelli with broccoli and tofu. Yum, just hit the spot with all its spicy goodness. Some iced yerba mate with cardamom and kaffir lime to ease the heat. And all the while, I was craving ice cream. With chocolate sauce. Where that craving came from, I know not, but it had to be satisfied.

I used to love the way Magic Shell created a, well, a magic shell on the ice cream. That's the part I loved on the drumstick ice cream cones. Maybe because it reminded me of the frosty layer that's created by whipped cream layered onto ice cream. I don't know how many Eiskaffes, iced coffees, I've had in my lifetime, just because I love that icy layer of whipped cream freeze-bonding to ice cream. Eiskaffe is a "dessert" in Europe: tall sundae glass filled with small balls of vanilla ice cream, topped with strong coffee, maybe a shot of cognac, and topped with clouds of (usually and preferably) unsweetened whipped cream. Ooh la la!

When my son was little and I had tons of time to cook and craft, I used to make some incredible tortes and roulades, filled and garnished with homemade whipped cream: Heat together 3/4 cup whole milk, 1/2 cup best quality unsalted butter. Pour into a blender and blend on high speed for about 2-3 minutes. Pour into a clean glass and chill overnight. Whip and use as needed. Yeah, incredibly easy and incredibly delicious!!

Sometimes I'd pipe rosettes of homemade whipped cream onto a small baking sheet, freeze, then plop the rosettes into a freezer bag. That way I would always have fresh cream toppings for my hot coffee drinks.

I wanted to post about my chocolate sauce today, and I keep getting side-tracked. So without further ado, let me just tell you that I wanted coconut ice cream, which I had. I wanted it topped with chocolate sauce, which I didn't have. So, I went to my chocolate box (yes, while others have bread boxes, I have a chocolate box), picked out a (3 ounce) dark chocolate bar with sea salt and broke it into a glass marmelade jar. I considered butter, but decided instead to use coconut oil (because I love coconut oil and thought it would keep the sauce liquidy) and spooned about 3 tablespoons of it over the chocolate pieces. About 1 minute in the microwave, stir, and like magic, my chocolate sauce was.....Magic Shell??? Ha, it sure was and it was delicious and good for you all rolled up in one deep, dark, pourable mixture. And that little sea salt crunch.

Mmmm, left me (and J) kicking and screaming....for more :)

Sorry, I didn't get around to snapping a pic of the chocolate sauce, just the mate before brewing.

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