RE: european ice cream
I'm guessing more butterfat for starters. I do know that I had some of the best ice cream of my life when I was in the old Soviet Union about thirty years ago. It was sold from street carts by little old ladies. The most common flavor was vanilla, but it had a slight maple overtone to it. They also had it with these tiny dried berries that would rehydrate in the ice cream till they had a slightly chewy texture. I remember this ice cream vividly because it seemed so strange to be getting this wonderful treat in a country that, at the time, was supposedly our avowed enemy; where life was hard and times were dark.
By contrast, the ice cream I had last year in Ireland was very good but no better than many of the premium brands we get here in the States.