Food Memories Immortalized
I’ve always wanted a tattoo. When I was in highschool it was a Clow Card, in college a stingray, and for awhile after college I got kind of morbid and daydreamed about getting ‘clue’ tattoos. I imagined my body found unrecognizable at the bottom of lake and some Sherlock-like detective deducing my identity based on my tattooed symbols; for instance, a rabbit for the year and two fish for the month I was born. Even though I dreamed of getting one frequently, I never was fierce enough to make the move. On July 4, 2011 Cache Creek’s ‘Widow Maker’ rapid left a 13-stitch gash in my left leg that was made worse by my skin’s allergic reaction to Neosporin. My unblemished skin had been irreversibly marked and was no longer precious. All of my fears subsided.
One day, out of the context of a tattoo, Chris and I were to discussing what we loved now and would love forever. It wasn’t even a question: ice cream. Cold and creamy, full of flavor, fat and sugar (all things good) packaged neatly in a transportable, light and crunchy cake cone.
Douglas, Chris’s brother, helped inspire the thought transition between a food love to a tattoo. He has tattoos of his favorite foods – bacon, bread, and now pumpkin pie. A tattoo of your favorite food is logical to me because that food isn’t just an object – it’s a memory. Food memories are permanent and powerful. The taste, smell, and texture of food can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back memories not just of eating food but also of a place and setting. Food is an effective trigger of deeper memories of feelings and emotions, internal states of the mind and body. So why ice cream? I’m glad you asked.
I, like most Americans, have eaten ice cream my entire life. I grew up on Dairy Queen after orthodontist tightenings, Rita’s when I visited my relatives, Ice Cream Truck Choco Tacos when I was the Gate Guard at Hood’s Pond, and summers full of Richardson’s gigantic kiddie cones. I had ice cream cakes for major events like birthdays, dances, and my high school graduation. There didn’t have to be a special reason for ice cream, my mom always had it stocked and we never had dinner without dessert. In college, Laura and I would steal handfulls of ice cream pops from Gracie’s, an all-you-can-eat restaurant on campus, to keep in our mini-fridge. I had my first memorable Rootbeer Float, thanks to Teo and Chris, and finally found a delicious use for plain vanilla ice cream. I rediscovered and fell in love with the classic Italian dessert Limoncello Tartufo. When I couldn’t find a place to purchase it, I made my own.
My love for ice cream blossomed into full blown obsession when I moved to San Francisco; the mecca of artisanal ice cream shops. They redefine classic ice cream by using unique ingredients and powerful flavors. People are willing to wait in half hour lines here because yes, it’s that good. Anyone who follows my Instagram, otherwise known as the diary of a 500lbs cat lady, knows how often I frequent the shops. A few of my friends have even started jokingly tagging their own photos as ‘a classic Linzi ice cream shot’. I’ve hosted both an ice cream and frozen yogurt tour of San Francisco, where a gaggle of ladies have gone to 3 or more shops in one day to find our favorites. Recently I was interviewed by the Cooking Network for one of my favorite shops – Garden Creamery!
I may be a designer, but my idols are the ice cream chefs of SF – especially the likes of the hilarious Jake Godby (Humphry Slocombe), dynamic Flores and Anabelle Topacio (Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous), and sweet Erin Lang (Garden Creamery). I’ve tasted bold flavors that break ice cream conventionalism and witnessed optimistic spirits that prove you can make a living out of your passion. Thanks to Jake’s Humphry Slocombe book in particular I’ve even learned how to make my own, which lead to creation of the exclusive Nurun ‘Ice Cream Club’ where you have to make & bring in your own to join.
My good friend, and fellow sweet enthusiast, Janine was in the middle of getting her sleeve done when I was looking for the right tattoo artist. I loved and was inspired by the intricate line work and use of color in her tattoo. She further sold Jessica Cooke at Old Crow Tattoo to me by raving about her light hand and beautiful personality. One last convincing look at Jessica’s portfolio and I was stunned by her shading techniques; I had found my artist. I went to Old Crow for our initial meeting and connected via e-mail after that.
Friends had told me to leave the interpretation of what you want up to the tattoo artist. So the first two renditions of the ice cream cone where purely based on what I said I wanted in our initial meeting:
I felt for Jessica. I was also doing freelance and it was weird for me to be in the client position. It had been 5 months since our initial meeting and I had fallen in love with a very specific twist top. Not wanting to step on her toes or force her to draw in circles, I ended up doing a quick sketch of what I was thinking and asked for her to refine it.
It was a total of 6 months from the first time I met Jessica to the day I got my tattoo. I thought that the elongated time was great to confirm my decision, but it didn’t make me any less nervous when I went in to get it done on November 26th. I tried about 80 different outfits in the morning – all in an effort to stay warm while having my legs exposed. You’re suppose to eat a full meal before you go in, but my stomach was so nervous that I was basically force feeding myself a salad. I traveled into Oakland and sat in the Old Crow waiting room alone. I attempted to read the first The Walking Dead comic in an effort to forget the butterflies. When Jessica called me in all of my panic magically washed away.
I was the only client in the studio in the middle of that Tuesday. The size she drew it at was perfect for the back of my calf that was wrecked by Widow Maker. I watched her mix colors as two other artists sat at their drafting tables and sketched. When it was finally time I laid full-length on the massage table, belly down, head in my hands, and legs towards Jessica. She started. The first 15 minutes, when she did the black outline with the smallest needle, was the most painful. There was a brief moment when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, but quickly ignored the thought. As soon as she started coloring I wished I had brought my phone or comic to the table with me, but it was nice to meditate to the buzz of the needle. Janine always described it as therapeutic and I could see why. Jessica worked incredibly fast and was done in two and a half hours. The other artists at the studio were as surprised as I was. My classic twist cone looks fucking awesome and is better than I ever imagined it could be. Thank you Jessica!