I’m not a big fan of ice cream.
This somewhat off-trend trait stems from attending a birthday party as a youngster. I was about to tuck into the ubiquitous celebratory treat when an unpleasant bigger boy asked if I’d like crushed nuts with it.
I’m forever grateful that I was sufficiently fleet-footed at that age to dodge the subsequent savage kick that missed my groin by the thickness of a wafer. It put me off the frozen dessert for years.
You can learn lots about someone’s background and upbringing by their ice cream choices, though. They’re almost definitely of superior social strata if they request vanilla rather than plain, a swanky 99 rather than a simple cappie, or a nougat wafer rather than a slider.
If, however, they ask for a tiny tub including a small wooden spatula then they’re probably more likely to be seen visiting a mind-broadening play at Eden Court Theatre rather than the occasionally mind-numbing play at the Caledonian Stadium.
That said, Aberdeenshire is home to one of the most celebrated ice cream makers in the country so it seems appropriate that to mark the launch of a new tourism branding of the area as “Majestic Aberdeenshire”, Rothienorman-based Mackie’s should create a limited-edition ice cream bearing the new moniker. Can’t really see folk stopping at a roadside icer and asking for “twa cappies o’ Majeestic Aiberdeenshire” but I could be wrong.
The new flavour is described as having “a ripple of chocolate and hand-made butterscotch pieces with an additional swirl of raspberry compote made with locally-sourced berries”. Fair enough, but far too exotic for my plebeian palate, although dessert devotees will doubtless devour it enthusiastically.
It’s an opportunity missed across Aberdeenshire, however. Marketing gurus might also have created individual ice cream flavours to reflect the area’s many different facets, with the subsequent local tourism boosts that would undoubtedly follow. For example, Peterhead could be promoted with an appropriately coloured “Blue Toon” ice, flavoured with a cod compote.
Turriff’s distinctive “Turra Coo” creation could be pure dairy ice cream topped with a sprinkling of fresh silage and a ripple of raspberries emanating from cattle in the byre.
The upmarket “Deeside Delicacy” could be salmon flavoured and smothered in royal icing; the “Stonehaven Slider”, named after the chute at its open-air pool, could be laced with warm seawater, while the “Lochnagar Lick” could be a mountain of ice cream infused with the unmistakable aroma of sweaty hiking boots.
Aberdonians might go for the “Pittodrie Parfait” that looks great and creates initial anticipation but its flakey structure soon melts into a sticky mess.
Numerous people might like the “Inverurie A96”, a dualled delight with real granite chips, but it’s not flavour of the month and some locals find it hard to swallow.
Finally, back to Aberdeen for the exclusive “Rubislaw Den Relish”, an awesome mint-flavoured concoction demonstrating that you must be minted to afford a house there.
I reckon I should be installed as Aberdeenshire’s head of marketing for these inspirational ideas, although perhaps not to any position of responsibility in Food Standards Scotland.
Despite my general antipathy to ice cream, which is also down to spending freezing winters grimly shovelling ice and snow from Fyne Place, it has been grand to see folk out and about again in extremely welcome and extraordinarily overdue sunshine.
It must be particularly heartening for the amazing Speedo Mick who headed south from Stornoway this week on a 2,000-mile charity trek dressed only in swimming trunks, sunglasses and hat.
The 56-year-old Everton FC fan has collected hundreds of thousands of pounds for UK charities through his scantily-clad long-distance walks, including John o’ Groats to Land’s End in 2019.
It’s a great idea, so much so that I suggested to Mrs F that I might try it to raise funds for our local community. She offered a triple-layered objection. First, in cold weather I’d look like a large motorway atlas. Second, I’m more gristle than muscle, and third, well, the lack of space in my ageing Speedos led her to make an unfavourable reference to crushed nuts.
Good luck, Mick. Unlike me, I hope you get plenty of support in all the right places.