When I was younger and going round to friends’ houses for tea was what you did, I always felt rather pleased with myself when the parents told my mum I had eaten them out of house and home. Looking back, this seems like less of a compliment but I suppose compared to a lot of fussy eaters at that age I was welcome to devour my plate of food, have seconds and then eat anything else on offer before I went home. An empty plate is as good a compliment as any.
I have continued on eating in this unfussy vein (albeit with more restraint as a guest) and will give almost any sort of food a chance. Including last night’s cheesy chips, cold and soggy with garlic sauce and the pickle juice from an empty jar of cornichons.
It’s strange, then, that something I really don’t like that much is ice cream – I would rather eat nothing than ice cream – yet I adore its close relative gelato and could eat that till I felt really sick.
There’s something in the lower levels of butterfat, the way it is churned slowly to give it a dense consistency and the slightly warmer temperature that it is usually served at. It just adds up to something far more delicious.
I had this epiphany in the streets of Rome, when a friend took us to the very best gelataria where you had to shuffle through throngs of italians to get at. I realised it was was nothing like ice cream at all. Then whilst in Paris I found a similar calibre of pure flavour at Berthillon where I would drag friends, even in freezing cold February, to try the combination of pear and bitter chocolate.
This summer whilst I was in Nice, I heard Fenocchio was the place to go for the best gelato-style ice cream. It is set on Place Rossetti in the heart of the Old Town and with 96 flavours and counting it puts all the competition to shame (and possibly out of business).
I spent a good 20 minutes or so choosing my flavours. I was torn between trying things like cactus, olive or tomato and basil and going for something that was more likely to taste good. I ended up with a delicious guava, chili chocolate that was genuinely a bit spicy and all the better for it, orange blossom which was okay but a bit too floral and mojito, which deserves credit for its authenticity but should go back to the cocktail glass it came from.