When my two sons were little we used to visit the beach in Evanston, Illinois on sunny afternoons. I’d hitch our bikes to one of those racks you attach to the back of your car, so we could pedal along the lakefront when we got there. The afternoon almost always ended with a visit to Rainbow.
At least I believe it was called Rainbow; it’s been thirty-five years since our last visit. (I tried looking it up on Google® but found no reference, so you’ll have to trust me on this one.)
Rainbow was an independent ice cream parlor in downtown Evanston. It was the perfect place to cool off after riding in the hot sun, particularly for me because I pedaled with my younger son in a seat on the back of my bike. He added both weight and resistance to my efforts.
By today’s standards, Rainbow would be old-fashioned. There were no thirty-one flavors. There were no cardboard to-go containers. There were no fancy names for the ice creams. Just chilled dishes, real glass for your beverage, and little hats that the servers wore.
But the ice cream was wonderful. Our favorite concoction was vanilla ice cream with warm honest-to-goodness real maple syrup (none of the sugar-free variety back then) and pecans poured over the top. So simple. Yet, I’ve never seen this served elsewhere.
A couple days ago, I found I had the three ingredients mentioned above all waiting in my kitchen. I don’t know what possessed me to think of Rainbow just then; in fact, I’ve pretty much given up ice cream over the years. But the memory of the warm syrup melting the vanilla ice cream was strong. And the pecans I had were from Georgia, which is about the best pedigree pecans can have.
So I indulged not only in memories but also in calories. I’m not sure which was better.