“You remember that? Let me have jam, too. I still like it.”
Ivan called the waiter and ordered soup, jam, and tea.”
“I remember everything, Alyosha…”
Thus begins what must be one of the most remarkable conversations in literature. It goes on for pages. It goes on for chapters. It has acts like a play, movements like a symphony. And it all starts with the jam. I’m always moved by the intersection of food, memory, and comfort or kindness. The fact that it’s Ivan who remembers just kills me. He’s dark, doubting, cynical almost to the point of cruelty. You relate to him, certainly. He says the things you’re thinking (but more articulately!) or the things you try not to think because they’re too dark and hopeless. But you don’t love him – not until this moment. Everybody loves Alyosha, but I loved him more for still liking cherry jam, and for agreeing to order it. And because of the cherry jam we know that Ivan – cold, distant, disagreeable Ivan – loves Alyosha and always has. And for the first time, Alyosha know it too.
I like cherry jam, too. I like to bake it into cakes and cookies. And in this case, I put it in ice cream. I’m somewhat obsessed with vanilla. I literally dream about it. It’s not boring, or dull, or plain! It’s not white! For some time I’ve been dreaming of an intensely vanilla flavored ice cream. Really smooth and creamy and ridiculously vanilla-y. I got a few gift certificates for my birthday, to various places, and I bought vanilla powder, vanilla paste, and a vanilla bean. Oh yes! I decided to combine these with vanilla essence to make ice cream. If you don’t have any or all of these things, you could use extra vanilla essence. I also used brown sugar, because I didn’t want the ice cream to be white, and because I think the caramelly taste is nice with vanilla. I added a whole teaspoon of salt, to intensify the flavor. And, in honor of Alyosha, I melted some bittersweet chocolate with some cherry jam, and I drizzled it into the ice cream as it was freezing. It semi-hardened, creating lovely pockets of flavor and texture.