Growing up in Northern Philippines allowed me to experience rural life in its purest form. With fresh produce readily available, and where seasons dictate the kind of food one can enjoy, it’s where kitchens are always busy, and dining tables offer variety.
With farms and market just few minutes away, its normal to partake in freshly prepared food.
Our family farm produced what seemed like an enormous harvest of mangoes and jackfruits during the summer, thus I grew up selecting my personal fruit, and hoarding this in my room, until its ripe for enjoyment. Any surplus is subsequently turned into jams, jellies, preserves – and ice cream.
Yes, we made our own ice cream!
When one has fresh carabao’s milk collected at the strike of dawn, then who would not want to concoct one’ culinary desires – even ice cream?
My father, commonly known as Diddi, a dedicated lawyer, especially to rural folks, a passionate cook and my original foodie, experimented with his “garafinera” or ice cream maker as I remember him call it.
During the summertime, one can only imagine how we counter the summer heat with luscious ice creams. Only the chesa – its tree towering over our backyard – was not touched by my father.
I grew up therefore looking at ice cream as a labor of love and expression of gratitude for the farm blessings!
Now that I have my own family, I want to do the same. After being disappointed with the taste of local commercial ice creams and how expensive artisanal ice creams are, I ventured into my father’s territory – making homemade ice cream.
Working on homemade ice cream is like a bridge. It brings back so many good memories of rural summers of my childhood as well as start a new family bonding activity with my eight children.
Indeed, making homemade ice cream has become a family affair – with my wife helping me select choice ingredients; with the big kids reading the recipes, and the small ones helping pour or mix, using their small hands.
After all the churning in the ice cream maker, everyone gathers around, and enjoy every scoop.
At the end of this newfound family activity, when every scoop has been consumed, my children always ask: What do you call this ice cream dad?
My answer: Papa Diddi’s.
It’s just my small way of paying tribute to my father – who introduced me to the purity of homemade ice cream and who taught me to value the hard work of farmers.
May my family’s love affair for ice cream – captured in every Papa Diddi’s scoop – using only the freshest carabao’s milk with choice produce from select local farms, gardens and markets all over the country – – be the start of your own!
Paul P. Perez