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Black and White

August 4, 2011

When I was younger I was absolutely convinced some things were good, while other things were bad. And I wasn’t even that young. College started to shake me from this dialectic, but it wasn’t until I was exposed to the complexities of the real world that I really started seeing everything in shades of gray.

But maybe that just stemmed from my work in advertising. It’s hard to say.

In many ways I still struggle with this. For example, let’s take the largest enemy to food I can imagine, and call them Nonsanto. There are plenty of people who will call a global corporation that develops GMO crops that threaten to destroy organic agriculture evil. Especially when the same company goes after farmers as it tries to protect its intellectual property.

However, I truly believe the company isn’t filled with evil people. Nor do I necessarily believe it is being run by evil people. It’s just that they have different priorities, and are most likely technological optimists. In fact there are likely many people working on these projects who believe they are making a positive contribution to humanity by feeding the world.

Reducing a conflict to black and white is counterproductive. It has the unfortunate side effect of dismissing your opponent’s rational actions based on their values, and stymies debate.

In those childhood days of innocence, I enjoyed not just my black and white outlook on life, but other black and white things as well. Today, I’m not going to talk about the black and white cookies, although those are great too. Today, it’s about something a bit more seasonal.

Ice cream has been on my mind a lot lately. But thankfully as a result of my head cold I haven’t had much of an appetite. So that means my increased daily allotment of ice cream hasn’t had a catastrophic effect on my waistline. This is moderation, no?

I blame the Tour de Soft Serve.

Now that I’m in Pennsylvania, I’ve had to sample their soft ice cream to see how it stacks up. And that’s when I re-discovered frozen custard. So over the past several days I’ve been looking for any excuse to make the thirty-minute drive to the frozen custard stand. By all accounts I’ve had more than my fair share.

But last night Mrs. Fussy and I got to go out for a dessert date, and she wanted to go to the seasonal soft-serve stand of her youth. A place that is simply called The Cow.

It’s better than Kurver Kreme and not quite as good as On The Farm. The Cow is soft serve only, but like any good seasonal ice cream stand worth its sprinkles, they have a frenetic and scattered menu that demonstrates thousands of things to do with their product.

And while I’ve been to The Cow numerous times, it was only tonight that I spied the sign that read “Ice Cream Sodas” with a laundry list of flavors to choose from.

Naturally, I got a black and white.

However, I chose to order it in a less ambiguous way by asking for “an ice cream soda, with chocolate soda and vanilla ice cream.” And man, did that bring me back. Given the sad state of most root beer these days, the ice cream soda reigns as the most refreshing way to enjoy ice cream. But it’s critical to save one last sip of soda at the end, to wash it all down.

Lately I’ve been so obsessed with wrapping my head around soft serve in its pristine and native form that I’ve almost entirely neglected to deeply examine the menus at our seasonal ice cream stands. So I can’t even tell you with certainty where in the Albany area to get one of these.

Making chocolate soda isn’t hard. It’s just chocolate syrup and seltzer. But if a shop is unaccustomed to making it, you probably don’t want to be their guinea pig. Obviously, more research is required when I get back home.

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