So here’s an as yet undocumented cultural phenomenon – Germans are obsessed with ice-cream. On Sunday the temperature crept briefly into double digits, and all Germans came out not to play but to consume ice-cream. Every German town has at least one ice-cream parlour. We are especially lucky in our small town as there are three (that we know of), so on Sunday while there were queues, it was not a desperate situation.
Anyway, what is fascinating is what they eat. Some stop off for a cone with a few scoops, but most take a table, peruse a ten-page menu of ice-cream options and order enormous cream, chocolate, nut and and fruit-laden concotions with all seriousness. Each Eisbecher comes in the equivalent of a large vase, probably containing the week’s recommended calorie intake for a weightlifter. Beefy men sit down in front of parasol-bedecked tutti fruttis unconcerned by just how damn camp they look – because Eis will, and must, be eaten from the first sunny spring day and until the winter snowflakes begin to fall.
On Sunday, even our local Goths were having an Eis at the “icy parlour”, as it is known in our home. These Goths have a house, a child and a dog so they are somewhat suburban, but they also have a sticker on their postbox saying ‘Vampires like to bite you’ and a snarling dragon for a doorknocker, so they are still Goths with attitude. They were not exactly smiling, and their dog was trying to eat any small children straying too close to their table, but there was a certain lightening of atmosphere once their Eis-filled vases arrived.
At the icy parlour, we have outstanding Italian ice-cream made by real Italians, who speak German with Italian accents. We have never had a vase of ice-cream, but last summer my kids and I embarked on a project to test all 55 flavours and choose a favourite. It was a comprehensive survey: we each had to have a cone with one scoop almost every day. It was challenging and there were days when we had to force ourselves but at the end of summer Lily and I agreed that the coconut was outstanding. Daisy voted for the chocolate.