Nobody really knows where it’s from.
Perhaps China’s snow and rice, mixed with saltpeter, frozen to zero
Perhaps Ancient Greece, where Hippocrates proclaimed it livened
the “life juices” Perhaps Persia, with their rose water and vermicelli,
saffron and secret spices Or the Medicis, with their tin ice pots,
strawberries, raspberries, and currants
We can thank the Quakers for bringing it to George Washington
and Carlo Gatti, not a mobster – outside Charing Cross, selling
scoops for a penny
or AB Marsalls’ Book of Cookery, that introduced the ‘cornet’ –
made of crushed almonds, pressed, not ironed –
All playing in a band where nobody was certain of the tune
and yet so lively
Must it have milk? they ask
Must it have saltpeter? Why add rice?
Can cinnamon be added which stings the eyes?
Durian which putrifies the nose?
Mung Bean? Crema Catalaña? Red Bean?
How much milk fat?
How many globules?
How small the crystallines?
What is a colloidal system?
But the question beyond all others
that I always return to
and the answer I always seek, is:
How is it that I was so fortunate to have met you in this life?