The Irish do not understand milkshakes.

The first time I was in Ireland (in the UK, in fact, because this problem was endemic to England and Wales as well) I ordered milkshakes several times, and was always presented with this rather nasty concoction that was more like shaken milk than a milkshake. Sometimes it was lumpy. Other times it was bubbly, but not like soda bubbles, but rather, like shaken milk bubbles. It was never cold enough, or chocolatey enough, and it clearly never had any acquaintance with ice cream. After about the third one, I gave up and stopped ordering them. In the two years I’ve lived in Ireland now, I haven’t ordered a milkshake, because I figured it was too risky. But today I was out and I was thirsty and I thought, “Well, hell, I’ll give it a try,” and went to a Butlers Chocolate Cafe, because they have the best hot chocolate I’ve had in Ireland, and ordered a milkshake.

I received a–in their defense, sufficiently chocolatey–mildly cold somewhat bitter-flavored drink that was thicker than milk but which clearly had no acquaintance with ice cream. It wasn’t *bad*, but it was in no way a milkshake.

Honestly, what’s the difficulty here? Milkshakes aren’t that hard of a concept. You take ice cream. You take milk. (In an ideal world, you take vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup and milk, rather than chocolate ice cream and milk.) You blend them together and you have a tasty treat.

It can’t be that the shakes are being pureed to the point of no longer having any recognizeable ice cream content. They’re just not thick or cold enough to have ever *had* any ice cream, not even soft serve ice cream, and this one wasn’t *sweet* enough to have ice cream. There is some fundamental disconnect about what a milkshake _is_, and I’m bewildered by it.

*pauses for Wikipedia*

Well, that does in fact explain it. According to the history of milkshakes page, “Several decades ago, milkshakes were made without ice cream1, a practice which is still continued in some parts of the UK, Australia and New England.”

1“A milk shake might be milk, shaken up, with or without flavorings-if that’s how it was when you were growing up. For most people, it’s synonymous with a frappe: mik, syrup, and ice cream.” (p.668-669) – How to Cook Evertything. Mark Bittman. Wiley Publishing Inc. 1998 ISBN-13: 978-0-4717-8918-5″


On other topics, has a great little essay/query thing about writers and insecurities. Everybody’s got ’em. :)

I finished chapter 14 today. Only 1300 or so words of forward motion, but it’s done, and page 200 is finally within reach. Sadly, that’s not the halfway point in this book, but since I’ve revised the first part three times now and haven’t yet reached page 200, it’s this huge haunting milestone there in front of me. But now–because my shoulder’s been achy since I got up–I’m going to trundle downstairs and read the rest of FIFTY DEGREES BELOW, which I’m trusting is eventually going to come to some sort of great crescendo, instead of continuing to be this sort of mildly bemusing introspective examination of humanity’s place, past, present and future, on the planet.

Then again, that might be the point.

ytd wordcount: 155,600
miles to Minas Tirith: 270

39 thoughts on “milkshakes

  1. Eddie Rockets does a milkshake that has ice-cream in but the flavouring is quite artificial. The only time I had a really good milkshake was in a small place that did it’s own ice-cream and is now sadly closed.

  2. You take ice cream. You take milk. (In an ideal world, you take vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup and milk, rather than chocolate ice cream and milk.) You blend them together and you have a tasty treat.

    Have you ever gone in somewhere, given them this description, and asked if they could make you one?

    I mean, people do that in bars with drink orders all the time. No reason you shouldn’t be able to at least /try/ to do that with a milkshake.

  3. Ah now, see, I grew up loving milk in all its forms, and yet I never loved the milkshake; and you may – finally, at this too-late stage in my life! – have put your finger on why, because no, in this country the milkshake has never had any connection with ice cream. The ones I tried – ‘way ‘way back, when I was a smallish thing – were composed of milk and flavouring and some sort of thickening, and nasty.

    These days, alas, ice cream wouldn’t do it for me either (I’ve gone all foodie, and refuse to eat it, mostly), but I can see how it would have made a major difference when I was a kid. ‘Til now, this very moment, it had never occurred to me that the US fondness for these vile things was actually an instance of the same word carrying two meanings, so thank you for that. George Bernard Shaw would’ve been quicker.

  4. In fact, growing up in New England, there was always a definite difference between a Milk Shake and a Frappe (or, the best of the bunch, a Fribble from Friendly’s).

    A lot of the time, even in New England, you get the whole ice cream thing, but sometimes you get flavored, whipped, milk.

    I tend to forget that, having been away for so long.

    And now I’m really craving a Fribble.

  5. If by “FIFTY DEGREES BELOW” you are referencing the Kim Stanley Robinson novel, I recently connected the dots — of his books a bunch of seemingly disconnected books are actually connected.

    Antarctica is the first of the ones I’ve read, the the 40 Days of Rain trilogy, and then the Red Mars books. The connection between them is not overt, and mostly it’s Senator Chase that’s the giveaway (he’s referenced very briefly in one of the Mars books as a historical figure).

  6. The milkshake minus ice cream is very much of a Rhode Island thing, where the item that contains both milk and ice cream is known as a cabinet.

  7. Ah, good, I was going to post the same thing, and I’m glad someone else shared it! :) ( educated me on the nuances of the milkshake vs. frappe thing. Me, it just makes me appreciate regional differences.)

  8. Hrm. Okay, I can understand the whole milkshake thing had it predated the invention of ice cream, but it’s stuff like this that incites Americans to mock British cuisine. And let’s face it, American cuisine isn’t the world’s finest. Except for deep fried Twinkies, which are better than anything else on Earth.

    {Disclaimer: I’ve never really had a deep fried Twinkie. I’ve never wanted to have a deep fried Twinkie. The person who invented deep fried Twinkies clearly hated humanity even more than I do–which is, frankly, quite terrifying.}

  9. Yeah, you have to be careful in New England, too. Only the fast food chains (which have seemed to have standardized the terminology) serve milkshakes made with ice cream. Outside of the chains, you’ll get shaken up milk. New Englanders will proudly tell you that you should have ordered a frappe instead.

  10. Gino’s on Wintrope st.
    No harm trying, as you can tell them if you want syrup or not.
    (and Captain america’s do Malts… which are quite popular.)

  11. If you want a good milkshake, go to Eddie Rockets. They’re thick with ice cream,ice cold and delicious.

  12. I suspect the deep fried Twinkie was invented after the ndeep fried mars bar.

    Which is a food i have longn wanted to try, but considering me levels of unhealthy shall have to wait Till it does not kill me!

  13. Depends on what you’re referring to as “American” cuisine. There’re plenty of foods that are distinctly American in origin that are varied and flavorful and really quite a treat to experience. There’s also a lot of weird regional stuff that makes most folks from out of region go ‘You eat what?’ much in the way that Europe looks at France.

    And then there’s corporate “American” food: fast food chains, or the TGIFriday’s type joint. Which can be hit or miss depending on the chain and your tastes, but is certainly not what I consider quintessential American food.

  14. If commercial British ice cream is of the same general quality as commercial Irish ice cream, I’d go off it too (in fact I have, and thus instead spend €6.69 on Haagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s, which is like TEN DOLLARS A PINT FOR GOD’S SAKE). It’s terrible.

  15. I’m not at all surprised they’re connected, and now that you mention it I remember Chase being referenced, I think. Cool.

    Anyway, I just finished the book and did get the payoff for the whole bit that I was wondering if it was going anywhere, so that’s good.

    I loved the North Pole regatta scene.

  16. It is. It always has been. There are of course good ones available these days, or one can make one’s own; I still tend to avoid ’em. Anything that cold, you lose all the subtleties of flavour, the grace-notes that make taste interesting. Same is true of piping-hot food. Closest to room- or body-temperature, the more the flavours are available. Quoth the foodie, ever more…

  17. See, I’d disagree on the cold end (hot you just can’t eat, there’s no point). In my experience the thing that’s critical on the cold end of the spectrum is there’s simply a very limited number of bites you get before your mouth goes cold and you can’t, in fact, taste the subtleties. For true flavor impact ice cream probably shouldn’t be served in more than half-cup servings, and probably a quarter to a third is really optimum for enjoying the flavor.

    Which doesn’t, mind you, stop me from *eating* it a pint at a time….

  18. Aaaah, I remember the days when I used to think McDonald’s milkshakes were the shiznit. Now I kind of gag when I think of going there. Independently owned ice cream shops all the way!

  19. Which doesn’t, mind you, stop me from *eating* it a pint at a time….

    Attaperson. Never let a simple statistic divert you from your pleasures. *g*

  20. Silly Kit!

    Milkshakes, especially in Commonwealth nations, are just milk. If you want ice cream in it, you look for a thickshake (or something along those lines.)

    I never had any ice cream in a milkshake until I came to the states. Previously, anything shake-like with ice cream in it came from McDonalds and was called a thickshake, and we expected it to taste very different from what we were used to.

    I was also introduced to malts here in the states, and those I like very much.

    And of course, now that I live in Wisconsin, there’s frozen custard all over the place, and they make shakes (and malts) with that, and it’s the best thing in the entire world. So it goes.

  21. Ah, frozen custard! I would that the southwest would discover the joys of frozen custard on a hot evening.

    Heaven knows, we have enough hot evenings here. I just want the frozen custard (not Dairy Queen wannabe crazzap) to go with them (instead of iced lattes or smoothies).


  22. How cruel of you to undercut my attempt at comedy by applying facts and reason! Bah! I speak with the purity of thought that can only come from sloppy generalizations. :P

    Of course, that does beg the question of why I’m spending my efforts on LJ instead of becoming a major political figure….

  23. ” a practice which is still continued in some parts of the UK, Australia and New England.”
    Can I swear? this is total and utter Bull with respect to Australia.

    NEVER have I experienced a milkshake in Australia that does not contain icecream.

    Come on over and you can taste a proper milkshake.

  24. You must be going to all of the freakish Aussie milkshake places, because I didn’t think they used ice cream either.

    I’m from New Zealand, so I should know. So there.

  25. After over thirty years of living in Australia, I can’t remember not getting icecream in a milk shake.

    Sure, now-a-days, there are places that use that soft serve gunk instead of real icecream, but you just avoid them. A milkshake is milk, icecream and flavoured syrup.

    I know most of you Kiwi’s dream of the better country, but I didn’t realise that we had taken over your country. Yet. :D

  26. hah – milk shakes with ice-cream? that’s not a milk shake. It’s something else. But I’s sure I know where you can get what you are looking for I just need to think about it. And for those who send you to eddie rockets – there isn’t one in the city and mizkit would need a car to get to those in cork – but I’ll pick you up and ake you sometime..

  27. I was going to recommend a little restaurant. Serve up proper milkshakes, good hamburgers, chocolate chip cookies, and all that. Then I remembered that all that work would subtract from writing time….

  28. I met the cultural divide on milk shakes coming the other way — the first time I bought a milkshake in the States I couldn’t figure out how to drink it, it was so thick it took immense effort to get it through a straw! Eventually ate it with a spoon and great suspicion, thinking about scary american chemicals or something added to the milk…

  29. Are you sure it wasn’t just really cold milk? And is this only one part of Australia? Like Melbourne? Because Melbourne may as well be NZ.

  30. Thay do? I was just told the other day that Captain America’s is a good place to go eat. I wouldn’t have thought so but what with them having malts as well I shall have to go try…

  31. grins – I remember my poor cousin discussing this with me. He said “I sucked and sucked and for ages nothing happened and then eventually it started to come and I go t a mouthful of white stuff” and then he blushed as he thought about that sentance…

  32. Wow. I grew up in Chicago, where milkshakes have ice cream and milk and syrups. Or just flavored ice cream and milk. I’m having problems wrapping my brain around a milkshake without ice cream. Poor, poor Kit. Poor, poor people in Ireland. And, apparently, New England. (Frappes are a different beast here too, as they use some weird thickening powder.)

Comments are closed.