What do adults want?
Well, if you are anything like me in the context of this post, you might want: authenticity, provenance, passion and above all, clean and recognisable tastes.
What do children want?
Still keeping it in the context of this post and using my own kids as a yardstick, they appear to want: neon lights, big fibreglass models, lurid colours and a softer, less obvious taste.
Dragging two kids halfway across a city just to eat Ice Cream is always a bad idea. Especially when there are more Gelateria per square meter in Rome than anywhere else in the world.
‘Why can’t we just go to that one?”
“Because it is not on the approved list!” is definitely not the sort of thing you say to a five year old on the verge of a meltdown, but it is what I said all the same.
The approved list, for this trip at least, included two gelateria: Otaleg – which I assumed was a Russian Oligarch when it first started to appear on Instagram, but is really Gelato backwards; and Fatamorgana – which I have been to a couple of times now.
Otaleg is so cool and trendy that you’d be forgiven for not knowing it is there. Down one of the dirtier, link streets of Trastevere – there was no sign, just an indication of somewhere selling ice cream.
I am always first to order. Nervous of keeping the server hanging, I simply laser in on what I want and give the family extra time to order. I had Pink Grapefruit and something that was crunchy with nuts, chocolate and honey. You could taste every flavour in there. Which would soon prove to be a problem.
The kids ordered theirs. The Pink Grapefruit tasted too much like Pink Grapefruit. The chocolate in the Stracciatela was too dark and rich.
HMKing became quite the vocal critic. I cringed, the way parents do as a child is slumped on a chair giving his cup of flavoured, iced milk a single star rating.
The adults finished and happy, the kids dissatisfied with the steps wasted; the treat even more so.
The next day we went on mazy walk around the centre of Rome (more in tomorrow’s post). I knew I wanted to go back to Fatamorgana which was perfectly placed near the Piazza del Popolo. Though it was still a fair walk past 10 or more Gelateria, including the Blue Ice chain that captures the eyes like a siren’s song. Can you really coat the children’s eyes in beeswax* to stop them being so enchanted?
Thankfully Fatamorgana has a large, fibreglass bin in the shape of an ice cream – but that was all there was going for it in the kids’ eyes.
Again, I was in first: Bacio Del Principe (A Prince’s Kiss – hazelnut and chocolate) and grape and nuts. Again you got the grapes, the nuts – the bitterness of the dark chocolate. It was perfect.
Well, except the size. I understand that these are weapon’s grade ingredients, but when the server is wielding a scope more commonly scene in a 1980s kitchen to create melon balls, you know you are going to be wanting more. That really is the tiniest of gripes.
The bigger gripe was, that again, the mango flavour was too like mango. Too much like the fruit the ice cream was made of.
You know, the person I blame in all of this – or persons – is whomever it was that decided what Watermelon or Foam Banana sweets should taste like. Or maybe it’s the people behind jelly bean flavouring. When presented with a sweet treat, kids – my kids – don’t want provenance or authenticity, they want to fly to the moon on a sugary high.
So what am I trying to say? Well, if you can find Otaleg in Trastevere you should go. Their fruit flavours pack an almighty punch. Likewise if you are near one of the expanding number of Fatamorgana locations, then the nuts and chocolate they use are of the finest quality.
But if you are five and you are a big fan of Mr Whippy ice cream with sherbet sprinkles and thick, raspberry sauce – don’t let your idiot dad drag you across town when there is the right shop there in front of you.
No matter how many locations he needs to tick off from his dream trip to Rome!