For the A TO Z CHALLENGE, I’m blogging for 26 days in April (except Sundays) based on the alphabet, and my theme is #foodiefiction, inspired mostly by the foods of Singapore.
I is for ice cream sandwich
That sound was magic. It woke the sleepy boy from his nap. He sat upright, his hair standing up, grabbed his glasses, hopped out of bed and dashed to the balcony. He stood on tiptoe, trying to see over the high wall. Where was it coming from? Was it getting closer?
What a wondrous joyful sound it was!
For that sound meant that the ice-cream uncle was coming!
He could see the uncle’s cart now. It was just a speck from his 19th-floor balcony but he could recognise the ice-cream uncle from anywhere.
“Ma!!” he yelled into the flat. “Ma!!!”
His mother opened her bedroom door and held out the house key and some coins.
“Ok ok, don’t shout, your mei mei sleeping. Just go get what you want and then come straight back upstairs ok?”
He took the money and nodded.
Wah, he thought, this is the first time I’m going down to get ice-cream on my own. Then he looked down at the coins in his hand and realized that his mother had given him more than usual.
“It’s fine,” she told him with a sleepy smile. “You can get an ice-cream sandwich today if you want.”
He was flabbergasted. While Ma was happy to let him have an occasional treat from the ice-cream uncle, she usually let him choose only the cheaper ice lollies. Sometimes she would agree to one of those small cups of ice-cream, chocolate or vanilla. But an ice-cream sandwich? And on his own? This was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. His seven-year-old body shivered with excitement and eagerness.
“Lock the door behind you,” his mother simply said as she gently closed the bedroom door.
He stood there, a little bit more than stunned. Then raced to get his green slippers on and out the door he went. He pressed the lift button then ran back to his flat to lock the door, then raced back again to the lift and pressed the button again, as if it would make the lift go faster. He danced a happy dance as he waited for the lift to arrive then hopped in and pressed the button several times to make sure it would reach the ground floor faster.
On the way down, he thought about the ice-cream he would order. He had always wanted to try mint chocolate chip. It was his best friend ’s favourite flavour, but the boy had never tried it before.
He dashed out as soon as the lift doors opened. Where was the ice-cream uncle?
The ice-cream uncle was selling a scoop in a cup to a small boy and his mother.
Come on! Come on! Yay! My turn!
“One ice-cream sandwich please uncle! Mint chocolate chip…no, wait! Sweet corn with rainbow bread!”
“Wah big boy already, come down by yourself ah!”
The ice-cream uncle grinned at his regular customer, grabbed a small plastic sheet, pulled out a slice of rainbow-coloured soft bread, then reached into the freezer section for the block of sweet corn ice-cream, carefully sliced it with a big knif and gently placed the frozen yellow slice into the middle of the rainbow bread.
The boy carefully took his precious treat from the old man, handed over his money, folded the bread in half, then slowly walked back to the lift landing. He held it delicately, hoping the ice-cream wouldn’t melt too quickly. Luckily the lift was still on the ground floor. It whisked him back up to the 19th floor and when the lift doors opened he saw his mother and little sister standing right outside.
“Gege!” his sister called. “I woke up already!”
He grinned at his sister and mother.
“I got an ice-cream sandwich from downstairs!! All by myself!! I got sweet corn, meimei, your favourite!!”
The original Singapore-style ice-cream sandwich is a rectangular hunk or scoops of ice-cream (choose from various flavours like mint chocolate chip, durian, red bean, mango and sweet corn) then placed within your choice of rainbow-swirled soft bread or thin crisp sweet wafers. They’re still pretty popular today and some peddlers can even be found along the Orchard Road shopping belt.
What’s your favourite ice-cream flavour or swelteringly-hot day treat?
(Also, I would like to thank my husband whose memories of buying from ice-cream uncles helped inspire this story)