Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Best Laid Ice Cream Plans

Felipe (the boy from the Pringles post) and I laid out what seemed like a perfect summer plan the other day. We decided that, over what was left of the summer, we were going to very seriously put our energies toward trying all of the ice cream flavours at La Campana (until recently my favourite ice cream spot in Barcelona). Because La Campana has at least forty ice cream flavours and because we both felt that daily visits were incompatible with swimsuit season, we laid out a considered, if slightly complex, scheme on our way to make the first purchase under the auspices of the 'plan'.

We agreed as follows: We would go to La Campana whenever we were in the Old Town. We would ask to try a sample of three flavours each time. Out of those three, we would choose a favourite on which to focus our attentions in the form of an ice cream cone. We would proceed systematically, starting from one end of the case and moving through the flavours sequentially. If we were ever confronted with a situation in which none of the three flavours tried that day appealed to us, we could purchase a cone from a previous selection that we hadn't had a chance to try. The last was a hotly negotiated point: Felipe originally thought that it would be more efficient to move on to the next three flavours at that point, while I wanted to extend the anticipation of the next experience. We hammered out the final accord hurriedly as we were nearing the shop, having decided that we'd stop in before seeing the excellent Las Meninas exhibit at the Picasso Museum (on until September).

When we arrived, we leaned in immediately to inspect the fruity case on the right, having purchased from the creamy case on the left last time we were there. With the sparkle of all the world's hope and anticipation in our eyes, we asked the laconic server for samples of the mango, cheesecase and black berry ice creams.

ONLY ONE TRY, she yelled, contorting her lips in what I can only imagine was an attempt to evoke a constipated coyote.

Oh, we can't try all of them?

ONE! (screeching baboon)

Oh, o.k., but what if we don't like the one we try?

ONE! (hyena still bloody from half eaten carrion)

One each?

ONE! (rattler...if there had been an S in "one", she would have hissed)

So much bitterness in an ice cream shop didn't bode well so, with fallen hearts, we left without a sample and without a purchase. We had been backed into an impossible corner--not because the server's position was inherently unreasonable (although it was), but because of the server's unchecked display of total contempt, which quite frankly would have robbed Homer Simpson of his appetite.

Perhaps we should have asked (quoting Lisa Simpson's conversation with the cafeteria lady) if the server remembers when she lost her love for the job. We didn't. But we did console ourselves with a delicately flavoured mango sorbet from Tomo II on c/ Argentera in the Born. Tomo II has a small selection of artisanal ices in a rotating case with minutely controlled temperature settings. It was very good, but could hardly make up for all of our melted ice cream hopes.

We are still in search of a suitable location to conduct our summer experiment.

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