They say that nothing is new under the sun. And I suppose oregano ice cream has been done by someone somewhere, but at least to my knowledge this recipe exists nowhere else. With good reason, you say? Feh. Walk with me.
If you have ever smelled Greek oregano in springtime, on those first warm days after the winter, then you might understand where I came up with the crazy idea to mix cream, milk, sugar and eggs with what is usually an herb tossed into tomato sauce or slathered on a leg of lamb.
Oregano views the world differently in springtime. It’s softer, kinder, more floral. Think of the young boy who talks to squirrels and brings his mum flowers; this is oregano in spring.
But when the weather warms, that boy learns that it is unmanly to talk to squirrels, and especially so to bring mum flowers. He hardens, becomes unyieldingly resinous and loses his love for cream and sugar; he looks now only toÂ meat for friendship.
Oregano ice cream cannot be made once the weather reaches 80 degrees for any length of time. The boy has become a man.
But it’s still cool here in Northern California, and with our 3rd Annual Big Fat Greek Party coming up, I wanted to do this dish, which is to my mind a quintessentially Greek dessert.
I make a full-cream, custard-style ice cream, with many egg yolks but not too much sugar; I hate overly sweet desserts. I do, however,Â add one final sweet touch: That’s not chocolate sauce you see drizzled over the ice cream, it’s black mountain honey from Greece.
This whole dishÂ plays withÂ your expectations. You look at it prepared to eat a very respectable vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and a sprig of mint. What you get is something very different, but very special.