05 October 2012

A Bite from the Past


What does that word bring to your mind?

Something along the lines of this, perhaps?

Palm trees, smiling natives, sandy beaches, thick, sea-salt heat, coconuts and tropical fruit?

For me, nothing says Tahiti more than this:

That and French pastries, French crépes, and a line of cars that wound three times around the McDonald's on Papeete.

I was introduced to the Magnum in a supermarket on Papeete, where my dad had taken my sister and me to try to find some "American" food. Instead he produced these European-circulated wonders from the freezer section. "You haven't had ice cream till you've tried one," he told us.

He was right.

I don't know why. But if original could be tacked onto an ice cream bar, Magnum ice cream would epitomize it. And the chocolate. Oh the chocolate. (Could it have something to do with the fact that it's European chocolate?)

My 14-year-old self relished every sweet, cold, creamy bite. Too quickly though; things melt so quickly in Tahiti. And I was so disappointed when my dad informed us that Magnums were not sold in the US. (If I had known what an ex-patriot was all those years ago, I might have considered...)

The other day, ten years later, the past came full circle. I had sat down in the kitchen to catch my breath and a few minutes of The Cosby Show in the middle of a frazzling school week. And my sister informed me that she had a Magnum in the fridge for me.


Yes. Wrapped in gold like the winning Wonka bar. Thick speckled ice cream and thin Belgian chocolate frozen around a European popsicle stick. 

The chocolate flaked off as I bit into the creamy European richness. And memories of a vacation in Tahiti came back. Epic water gun fights, crazy left-side driving, musty hotel rooms, trundle beds in bungalows, tropical storms, French sunbathers, sauna-heavy air, waterfalls and rain forests, manta rays and feeding European bread tidbits to hundreds of species of colorful tropical fish. Relaxation, the smell of ginger and native flowers, native dancers... a world away. ABBA and Annie Lennox playing over a PA in an outdoor French mall. All in one cool, tongue-tingling, teeth-numbing bite.

Perhaps in the future I'll share some of the more traditional details about Tahiti. But for now...Magnum bars are now circulated in the US. And (ahem), you haven't had ice cream until you've tried one.

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