I’m going to break the fourth wall here for a moment.
I was thinking of this blog and I wanted to write about ice cream. It’s National Ice Cream month, you know? And though I enjoy ice cream, especially living in Europe, there’s not much I normally have to say about it. Believe me, I thought about it a lot the past few days:
- Ice cream’s great in Europe because… they serve small scoops at small prices. €0.70 if you’re in my town, up to €0.90 if you’re somewhere fancy. (BORING!)
- People eat it all the time in the summer here. (OBVIOUS!)
- A pint of Ben and Jerry’s at my local grocery store is almost €6.00 and I indulge in it more than I should because, even though European ice cream is good, it’s hit or miss at ice cream shops and mostly miss at grocery stores. (PATHETIC!)
So, when we passed an ice cream/gelato shop right next to Cologne’s big cathedral, I was excited. We can sit outside, enjoy our ice cream while enjoying our views and I would have a slight ice cream story that was probably going to be more about the cathedral. Except then my husband said it’s way too expensive to sit down and have ice cream, we should just get a scoop of ice cream to go. And so we did.
I went in to order (no line, yay!); he stayed outside with the kids.
He wanted pistachio, but they were out of it. I stepped outside, “they don’t have pistachio, is mint ok?”
And then, in typical my-luck-would-have it fashion, a line had formed. Two older couples were checking out the options, but of them, only one woman was really interested in the ice cream. She wore a black hat and kept pointing to the different options while chatting to the server. I wondered if she was ever going to order and wanted to just skip in front of her so I could.
While I waited for her, I looked for something for myself. I found it quickly. Off to the corner, hardly touched. The Mozart. I knew right away that this scoop of ice cream was going to make it on the blog. See, as soon as I saw it, this is the monologue I had in my head:
“Oh, Mozart, what’s that… oh, I bet it’s that Mozart Kugel from Salzburg… oh, I can talk about Mozart Kugels and Salzburg how it was our first real trip with our son and how cool it is to see something called “Mozart” and know almost immediately that it’s chocolate, pistachio, and marzipan and it’s ice cream and it’s perfect… the circle of life via travel food…”
And I was excited about this little twist to my story, but still… it’s not TOO exciting. (For those that are paying close attention, the Mozart ice cream option wouldn’t have been a good one for my pistachio-loving husband because he hates chocolate ice cream.)
With all this internalizing, I looked up to see that the two couples in front of me had left already. Except for the lady with the black hat. She continued to point and comment and smile and I couldn’t hear her, but I don’t think she was saying anything of substance. She left without getting anything and then it was my turn.
After placing my order for a cup of vanilla for my son, a cup of Mozart for myself, and a cone of mint for my husband, I paid my whooping €3.30 for all 3 (that’s €1.10 for one scoop of ice cream for those not mathematically gifted.) I walked out to my family to see my husband pointing in my direction and then the two older couples that were in front of me in line, black hat lady included, turning and waving. Then they looked at my son and said, “Mama’s here with your ice cream!”
Then things got a little weird.
I handed the mint cone to my husband and somehow, I’ve replayed this in my head and really don’t know how this is possible since my son was in the stroller and my husband was standing, my son grabbed the mint cone. In the midst of grabbing and claiming ownership of it by taking a huge bite out of it, some spilled on to his shirt. The two couples went into grandparent mode. The men were saying things to my husband, that I didn’t catch. The black hat lady looked at me and said she’ll run inside to get some napkins. I told her it was ok, I already have napkins and then our worlds stopped for a moment.
She smiled back at me in acknowledgement. It’s that look that only moms know. That recognition that I’m in the part of my life with my children where I carry everything they need at all times, and that she once did the same. When I looked over to smile at her again, I noticed that her friend, the other female in the group had grabbed a bunch of napkins from the ice cream shop. As she waved them towards us, life sped up again and chaos ensued.
Black hat lady grabbed the napkins and starts cleaning up my son. One napkin blew away in the wind. I ran to catch it. The women were making sure their temporary grandchild was cleaned up from the ice cream, with a makeshift bib on his shirt in the process. The men were all continuing their conversation. When I got back, with everything as it should be, they wished us good luck and said their good-byes.
Where are we now.
After saying good-bye to the, we lost track of the two couples. Their kindness will always be on our minds.
We went across the street and sat on the steps next to Cologne’s Cathedral. My husband had to settle for vanilla ice cream in a cup. I decided that the Mozart was better in theory than in taste.
My son jumped out of the stroller to enjoy his cone. As we walked back to the car, passing in front of the cathedral, he noticed it for the first time. Awestruck at this HUGE building, he wanted to follow everyone else going inside. Since no food was allowed, my husband offered to hold the cone. While my son and I enjoyed the interior of the structure that has been mentioned as early as the 4th century, my husband got to finish his mint ice cream cone.