Ginger Gelato

Friends, this was inevitable.  I love ginger.  See the gingerbread yogurt scone post for an ode to my favorite aromatic.  I can't get enough.  It's been really hard to pace myself with two pints of this gelato in the freezer, so, I basically haven't been pacing myself.  Let's be honest, there are no longer two pints in the freezer.  

Last night, I was asked to write a short blurb on my trip to France for La Traversée de Paris in October.  Apparently the University is sponsoring a Paris-themed dinner at the dining halls on Wednesday to honor us, which will be great publicity for UChicago Crew and a free meal for me, so I don't hate it.  Why this is happening three months later, I have no idea.  But reflecting on the trip was an interesting exercise for me, not only because I had to write articulately and captivatingly about it, but also because I'm an incredibly different person now than I was then.  Well, maybe not different at the core, but in a wildly different place in my life, which of course changes my perspective on what happened then.  I've included the blurb below for you to read.  What I wound up writing sounds so rosy when I read it back to myself now.  In many ways, though, that weekend was as incredibly beautiful and breathtaking for me as I've described.  All that I wrote, all the emotions I tried to evoke in the piece, were and still are real; but that trip was also terribly painful for me, a layer of the memories I didn't include below.  I think it's better this way, not only because I'm assuming it's going to be printed somewhere for the dining event, but also because this is the way I want to remember it.  The very fact that I was able to recount my experience this way - bringing all the wonderful memories to the surface and stripping away the sad ones - demonstrates the kind of power we all have to shape and redefine our personal histories.

Forty seven hours. How can you breathe in such a city as Paris, in such a fleeting moment, without being consumed by the desire to grasp every piece of it at once?

From the very first jolt of wheels hitting tarmac at Charles de Gaulle, we were swept up and set down on the banks of the Marne. There, our incredibly gracious hosts at the Aviron Marne & Joinville Rowing Club welcomed us for their biennial celebration of the lasting friendships forged by rowing, friendships that unite both people and cities. On the eve of La Traversée de Paris, we raced, ate, and danced with our fellow French rowers well into the night; and in the black hours of the early morning, we awoke to carry our wooden shell down to the waters of the Seine. As five Chicago students in a floating parade of a thousand costumed rowers, we shared thirty four kilometers of downtown Paris from a rower’s singular perspective; a perspective, which reveals that the Eiffel Tower, Cathédrale Notre Dame, Musée d’Orsay, and all the trappings of Paris are bound by a watery thread that is stronger than both cobblestone and concrete.

Even as we laced through the streets on foot in the late afternoon light, the river wound round us, anchored us. We could still see its outline in the dark of that last, quiet night, when we stood at the foot of La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre, at the highest point of the city. Paris, colored by warm street lights and purple shadows, sprawled out before us. Although our hours in this city had passed so suddenly, we had grasped and breathed in as much of Paris as the river could hold. And that was enough.

Ginger Gelato

1 c heavy cream
2 c whole milk
4 large egg yolks
2/3 c sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger, plus 1/2 teaspoon
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger, plus 1 tablespoon
1/4 c crystallized ginger, chopped and frozen

In a medium saucepan heat cream, milk, and 1 tablespoon fresh ginger to 170 degrees F, stirring frequently.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat the yolks, sugar, and 1 teaspoon ground ginger until the mixture has thickened and turned pale yellow.  Carefully stream in a 1/2 c or so of the hot cream-milk mixture, whisking constantly, to warm up the yolks without cooking them (technical term: you're tempering the yolks here).  Pour the yolk mixture back into the pot, then heat slowly to 185 degrees F, stirring frequently.  

Strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl, to remove any tiny bits of cooked yolk (you'll end up straining out the fresh ginger, but fear not, there will be more).  Whisk in the 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, then cool completely in the refrigerator for a few hours.  

Churn the custard in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions (~20 minutes).  When it's almost finished churning, add in the frozen pieces of crystallized ginger, being sure to separate the chunks that have stuck together.  Freeze until hard, or not, if you can't wait.  That's cool.  I hear you.

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