We are thrilled, as always, to have chef, educator, and historian Ernest Miller of Rancho La Merced Provisions join us this month to whet our appetites for the workshop, we asked Ernest a few questions:
Can you tell us a little about yourself (such as, how your interest in food and food preservation began)?
My interest in food dates to the very beginning. I’ve been eating food as long as I can remember. Seriously, though, I was raised in Los Angeles and my culinarily adventurous uncle used to take me out for exotic food (such as sushi in the 1970s) when I was young. As an officer in the US Navy, I traveled the world, always sampling the local cuisine and trying to cook it at home. Eventually, I decided to become a professional and attended culinary school.
As for food preservation, I’ve always been interested in history and the story behind the food I cook. Naturally, I was drawn to food preservation.
In 5 sentences or fewer, tell us about the history of ice cream.
Sweet frozen treats date back at least 2,400 years, when the royalty of Persia and the Roman Empire would eat snow flavored with fruits, fruit juice, spice and other flavors. It wasn’t until the 18th-century that true “iced cream” became popular in England. It remained a treat primarily for the wealthy for nearly another 150 years. Not until the mid to late 1800s does ice become readily available to the general public, as well as the ice cream churn (invented in the 1840s). By the Victorian Age, ice cream was wildly popular and remains so to this day.
What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
My favorite flavor is “fresh”—the wonderful, intense flavor you get when your homemade ice cream is right out of the churn.
What is a common misconception that people have about ice cream?
I think the most common misconception about ice cream is that it is difficult to make at home. It is very simple to make ice cream that rivals the best commercial versions at home with no special equipment, just a couple of Ziplock bags.