I am now and forever craving the perfect vanilla milkshake.
I clearly remember at the age of 5 being persuaded by my mother to deviate from my usual chocolate shake and try just a sip of her vanilla shake. It was at the lunch counter at a Woolworth's we frequented on the upper westside. And it was a life-changing experience that has encouraged me to try at least once everything else I've sceptically encountered since.
This vanilla shake was not especially thick, but it was extremely sweet. Thus, I came to dislike shakes so thick you have to have suck-the-chrome-off-a-trailer-hitch skills just to get them up the straw. And I learned to make it a habit to always ask if the vanilla shake is made with vanilla syrup. Milk mixed with vanilla ice cream alone is not a vanilla shake in my book. It's a drink, but it's not a milkshake. Nor is one made from a pre-mix like at most fast food places. Syrup must be present to create that essential sweet zing.
We moved when I was 7 and I never got back to that Woolworth's again, but I did find the closest thing to their vanilla shakes near my first job, down on Grand St. at a lunchonette called Zaffe's. Smooth, cold, and sweetened to perfection!!
Zaffe's is long gone, but I've been stopping at every single place that makes vanilla shakes in a silver cup I come across, in search of that same flavor. I live in LA now and I had something close to it once at a diner called Du par's prepared by an ancient waitress. I went back for more, ready to happily move in but she was gone and the young waitresses were never able to reproduce the concoction she'd blended in that magical way.
So I continue to roam the earth, forever searching....
Were Woolworth's and Zaffe's perfect vanilla milkshakes just dreams?
Help! Can I get a witness and an amen??