Milan passes by the tram window, in no hurry. The Reluctant Gourmet lets herself get lost for a few minutes in the familiar landscape: the Parco Sempione trees, that church she always liked though never remembers the name… Until finally, the Duomo. She lost track of how many times she had contemplated it, but today its grandiosity has a new spice: the promise of a gourmet adventure.
Milan was her old acquaintance. As a student, she was disappointed with its grey atmosphere when they first met. The cultural experience was a must have, the urban vibe, not so much. Backpacking abroad for the first time, she found no charm in Milan after passing by cities like Barcelona and Florence. With her pairs of very used timberlands, she visited all these places one must see when in Milan (except for the Last Supper, because as a good backpacker, she tried to make a last minute booking). At the time, she found the overall balance between churches, overpriced stores, fashion and design, reduced to a single must see attraction: the Piazza Duomo was really worth it.
Several years passed, and from time to time she surprisingly found herself coming back to Milan. This time she had come with her husband, with the mission to introduce him to the grey city for his first time, in between business meetings.
Husband: But do we really have to go to the Duomo today? Will it take long?
Reluctant Gourmet: Not so much, we’ll stay just long enough to take a walk inside… There is also Vittorio Emanuele… Do you still rather go somewhere else? – A hint of hope in her voice, because if Milan was her old acquaintance, this itinerary held nothing short of extreme boredom to look forward to. After so many times, even Duomo could be tiresome, and today she fancied an adventure.
Husband: I think so, yes. If you don’t mind. Yesterday we saw the Last Supper, visited the church… Two church days in a role is just too much!
Exhaling happiness, the Reluctant Gourmet sees one of those precious little Italian nameless shops: a Caffe Milanese, in the same family for generations. They take a seat outside, enjoying the spring fresh air, in this rare sunny day the grey city decided to offer.
Reluctant Gourmet: Per favore, due brioche con prosciutto, un caffe macchiato e un cappucchino.
Reluctant Gourmet: I just love it when they say “prego”! What a versatile word, used in such diverse occasions.
The husband observes his wife’s enthusiasm smiling at her. She withdraws her smartphone as if it was a weapon of entertainment. The brioches arrive. Between one Trip Advisor critic and another, she keeps reading about Milan’s outsiders attractions. Until the flavors and textures of the soft veneer become a welcome distraction. The French wouldn’t care to listen, but the Reluctant Gourmet always thought that the Italian version of their famous croissants was nothing short of perfection. Just when she was letting herself get lost in the pungent aroma of the fresh butter and its soft salty aerated texture, the prosciutto di parma presence reveals itself, making it all even better.
Reluctant Gourmet: That brioche’s only flaw is that it’s over.
Husband: Yes, that was actually really good. But what’s our next stop?
Reluctant Gourmet: A la Gelateria della Musica.
Husband: Italian ice cream, finally!
Gourmet Reluctant: Prego!
And so they went back to the tram, but this time to travel through Milan, in search of an exciting gourmet adventure. Because La Gelateria della Musica is very far away from all of these places you must see in Milan. That’s how the Reluctant Gourmet found herself rediscovering this familiar city, during the unusual site seeing the tram took them on the way to taste the world’s best ice cream.
After almost an hour travelling, they finally arrive at a peculiar station, bellow a viaduct. Nothing around them appeals as an invitation; none of those historical delicacies Italy has to offer at most corners, no seductive buildings whatsoever. They could only feel the rough reality of a poor neighborhood. A few people walked by the streets as if in a hurry, and their face expressions weren’t very friendly.
Husband: This ice cream better be worth it.
Until finally they make a turn at a street with no sign, where they see a line of people on the sidewalk. They continue to walk towards the group of people, until they reach the epicenter of the commotion: a tinny space crowded with Italians yelling flavors, with nothing but an over beaten sign to indicate where you were. The couple goes in and orders a few possibilities. The only attendant is behind a balcony with a modest selection of flavors displayed. While he offers tastings without complaining, the Reluctant Gourmet seizes the moment to overhear the local’s choices. She realizes most of them are very satisfied with a single shell with two ice cream spoons, one of Pistachio and the other, varied flavor choices. She decides to try:
Reluctant Gourmet: Pistacchio con Chioccolato Fondente 70%, per favore.
She closes her eyes preparing herself for quite a trip. She always preferred gelato to sorbet, and now she was losing herself in the best gelato of her life. Its creamy full body presents everything that mattered on the right amount. When she is about to embark without hesitation in the velvet sweetness of the pistacchio, the distinct presence of the half bitter chocolate reveals itself, making her palate divided in between these two seductive extremes. The Spring warmth is the perfect scenario for this sweet battle. Both flavors continue to duel, until they finally merge in the balance that is the gratifying result of this sweet battle. the Reluctant Gourmet realizes Milan by two is really much better, as she opens her eyes and sees her husband smiling as he devours his red fruit sorbet.