The Best Ice Cream Shop In The World

The real excitement builds about 5 in the evening. First a trickle, then a great surge. Itís that time.

It starts with a car parked up on the pavement outside with its hazard lights flashing. Inside, a woman alone sits devouring a waxed paper cup of ice cream like her life depended on it. It probably does.

The ice cream shop has a very long, curved, glass counter on the left. A worn, but scrubbed, mosaic floor. A huge golden chandelier hangs over the people bent forward to take it all in. Their fingertips gently touch the glass. They move along the counter trying to decide if they should go for just one flavour, but thereís that other one they have to have. It needs a little time to decide, but none of the people behind the counter are rushing anyone. Theyíre used to this. Minds made up, they ask how many scoops, a cup or a cone? Do you want whipped cream with that?

There are old men and women, middle-aged office workers in suits, groups of teenagers whose scooters are parked outside Ė their helmets dangling from the handle bars, mothers and children, grandmothers and babies. A solitary nun. Even a dog. All tense with anticipation.

But most important of all, thereís the ice cream, shining, heaped in silver tubs: deep dark chocolate, light brown hazelnut, shocking pink strawberry. bright green pistaccio. Ripples of amarena. And, oh my god, nutella! Coffee and sponge tiramisu. Apricot or peach or bright red melon. Granita of lemon or orange. Cream with lumps of profiteroles. They all make the same mental note - Iíll get that one the next time.

Some buy cups and start to eat the contents as they go out the door. The teenagers go back outside and lift themselves up, oh so carefully, sideways, on to the seats of their scooters. Others, on their way home from work, are buying bigger dishes for dessert later that night, and hang the string of a cake in a round cardboard box over their wrist.

The ones with time, move over to lovely old round white marble tables with black wrought iron stands. They settle. Pull a couple of serviettes from the little silver box on the table, with the name of the shop
printed in beautiful, red, sloping hand writing. Babies are encircled in cotton bibs. They all close their eyes and relish the first taste of the first round ball. Pleasure melts across the faces. No one talks. For a moment the world stops. Then itís time to move on to the second, the real favourite, kept til last. Itís the most, delicious, pure, taste sensation. It leaves you stunned.

As I regain my senses, I ask myself, how is it that not one of these people is overweight? I know the answer.

M Rossi

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