Saturday, September 24, 2005

Ice Cream off the streets of Singapore

One of many Ice Cream Men on Orchard Road

Here is a truly Singaporean thing. Do you remember those "boxes" of ice cream we used to buy at the supermarket? And do you remember those cheap 25 cent square ice cream scoops we used to get at Thrifty drug stores? In Singapore, these have been taken to another level. On the streets of Singapore, ice cream men will dig boxes of ice cream out of their portable carts and use a Chinese butcher knife to slice right through it, cardboard and everything. (It's a bit like cutting into a big melon or slab of meat, but with ice cream instead.) From there, they remove the cardboard and ask you if you want it wrapped in a slice of bread (multicolored, I might add), or wafers, which is my preference. Pay S$1 (US$0.60), it goes into a sheet of plastic for easy carrying, and you're off! I laugh because it seems like such a lazy way to do things (kinda like what a bachelor would do in his apartment, drinking milk straight out of the carton), but yet it's effective and commonly accepted here.

There is some localization here. Ice cream flavors (aside from the usual chocolate, etc.) include mango, honeydew, and durian (!). He ran out of honeydew today, so I settled for mango, which wasn't exactly bursting in fresh taste, but one can't exactly expect this from rectangular ice cream cut with a knife for only US$0.60, now can we?

The ice cream men still have cones and cups, but then he has to dig into this mysterious central vat full of mixed flavors to get you a scoop. Given what he does with the box slicing, I seriously wonder where he gets these flavors to mix into one big vat in the center. sounds a bit too convenient.


Mark said...

all the flavours end up tasting of durian too!

Anonymous said...

it's actually what I miss about Singapore, their $1 ice cream, where do they get those ice cream boxes? i'd like to bring that business here in the Philippines..:)

D. said...

Holy crap. I've actually seen that man in the photo. Don't quote me on this, but he played the harmonica on the street before he got the ice-cream cart one day if I remember correctly.