An ice lolly was the only consolation for yet another brutally boring, insipid day at school. I was definitely an outcast, a bit weird (ok, a lot!), sharp tongued and moody. Don’t think I contributed much to improve my dearth of popularity, if truth be told. I befuddled my classmates, even my teachers and my only educational bright spot, was that the English Lit teachers always liked me. However, it was the thought of cold, fruity ice lollies at the end of the school day, that made the drone of endless hours just about bearable. It’s about silver linings; you take them where you find them.
He didn’t say much, the ancient, sunbaked Indian Ice Cream Man. His formidable face didn’t turn to look at you either when you squeaked out your order. He’d just reach into his massive, battered coolbox and hand over your flavoured popsicle and silently take your money. A thankyou, tentatively voiced, was acknowledged by a grunt. I fairness, I would be terminally disillusioned if my livelihood consisted of riding a rusty, heavy Indian bicycle with a heaving box attached to it, in relentless 40 deg weather. To sell ice lollies. Sometimes there is no justice to be had.
Such thoughts never entered my mind of course, at the time. I was grateful he was there. Dad was always late picking us up and this was a pleasant way to pass the time, boiling in the heat, leaning against a hot concrete wall that was stingy with its shade. My sister and I would watch the roads for a sign of dad’s car and eventually it emerged out of the mirages dancing far in front of us.
Making ice lollies is child’s play. And it’s a great way to spend an afternoon with the kids, keep their hands and minds busy, away from trouble. I love the kit I use and already have a few more planned. The Lakeland Faces lolly set, have my children in fits of giggles and I’ll admit I join them too!
Any fruit (fresh or frozen), can be jazzed up or the pulp/juice left as is and savoured in its frozen form. Here I used Alphonso mangoes whizzed to a puree with some lime juice, grapefruit on its own (mint is lovely added to it), sweetened with sugar and fresh orange juice with a light backnote of star anise (I made a sugar syrup with a star anise floating in it…you don’t need much, as it’s quite potent. I then mixed the syrup into the juice).
Other options are berries, with or without yoghurt rippled through it, peaches and raspberries, or my kids favourite, blackberries, now with the latest addition of maple syrup in the mix. Consider too, lemon and ginger, mango and coconut, strawberry and passionfruit, whatever takes you fancy, or what you can reach out for from your fruit bowl. Just go by taste, adding a touch more sugar than is perfect as the freezing reduces the impact of the sugar. You can sieve your juice/pulp if you like, but I tend to leave the fibre in there. If nothing else, it makes for a very pretty ombre effect on freezing, as the ‘bits’ and liquid separate, as in the case of the grapefruit lolly.
I do often think about that Ice-Cream Man. My kids will never know of such a cheap and cheerful pleasure, as Health and Safety has put paid to such treats. Maybe that’s for the best. However, the memory of my school years would be mournful, if ice lollies were not a part of it. And for that and for him, I am thankful.