The politics of ice cream.
“SHUT THE DAMN DOOR!” the man behind the counter bellowed. The customer in front of us visibly jumped in surprise, and quickly darted out of the tiny store without purchasing anything. It was mid-afternoon in Waikiki, that hour of the day where the locals retreat to take what we assume to be a siesta, whereas the tourist folk continue to roast themselves redder than sashimi under the sun. Having overdosed on Vitamin D for the day, we were in search of the opposite of sun. We wanted darkness and coolness, and so we found ourselves at a nondescript storefront around the corner from Waikiki Beach.
Henry’s Place houses a freezer and a counter, and a few chairs at the front. The counter serves an assortment of fruit and sandwiches, the type of canteen food that would appease an unfussy eater. We didn’t visit for canteen sandwiches however, we visited for that freezer. Because, stacked inside that freezer, there is an assortment of styrofoam cups scrawled with a black or red pen. And inside each of those styrofoam cups, is the most delicious ice cream that we bet you will ever have had. Yes, you read that right, the most delicious ice cream ever. All yours for $5-6 a cup. We visited almost every day of the week while we were in Waikiki, and our favourite flavours were the coconut ice cream, and the pineapple mango sorbet. Other flavours that we also enjoyed included lychee, guava, passionfruit and a very strong Kona coffee flavoured ice cream. The flavours change daily. Make sure to visit before 4pm or so — any later, and the freezer will have been emptied out. And also make sure to be as quick as lightning when selecting your ice cream cup from the freezer, otherwise the dragon man whose ice cream den you have entered will roast you hotter and quicker than the Hawaiian sun.
The more we have travelled around the U.S., the more we have found the country to be regressing into history, rather than moving forward with the future. Glittering metropolises are being trapped and suffocated by a labyrinth of decaying public infrastructure, innovation hotbeds and liberal secularism are being smothered by archaic conservatism and religious fundamentalism. Waikiki was – in our eyes – a similar oddity. We will remember its sleek and shiny downtown and mesmerizing stretches of sand and sea, as much as we will remember how the rest of the island seemed very much fossilized in a 1950s time warp. Of all of our dessert adventures in Hawaii, from a luxurious seaside high tea in a colonial-style hotel, to traipsing the countryside for local dessert delicacies, it is that styrofoam cup of coconut ice cream from Henry Place’s that we remember the most from our trip. Quite apart from its distinctively luscious creamy taste, it symbolizes so much of the U.S. — a remarkable idea frozen into a container made of a material that has become increasingly superseded by, and siloed from, the rest of the world.
Dessert adventure checklist
- ☑ Dessert destination: Henry’s Place, 234 Beach Walk, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii.
- ☑ Budget: $.
- ☑ Sweet irresistibles: Ice cream.
- ☑ Must-eat: Coconut ice cream and Pineapple Mango sorbet. Stick to the tropical flavours.
- ☑ The short and sweet story: The politics of ice cream.