A new restaurant called Patria opened near my apartment recently. The owner is German and has included hearty German dishes on the menu, like Spaetzle and Jaegerschnitzel. To my surprise, the dessert menu also includes spaghetti ice cream. While frozen spaghetti may not sound appetizing, spaghetti ice cream is actually vanilla gelato pressed through a machine to make it look like noodles. Top it with some raspberry coulis and white chocolate and voila! I bugged my husband for weeks to take me to this restaurant just so I could order spaghetti ice cream. He’s a coffee lover, so I tried to tempt him with affogato, but it was ages before we finally made it to Patria. That must be some good ice cream, you might be thinking.
My excitement was not simply about the ice cream. It’s about self discovery and taking life by the horns. You see, about ten years ago I spent a month in Berlin and a month in Lueneburg, a town just outside of Hamburg. My father had died the year before and my spirit died with him. Work, college, daily activities lost all meaning and I was simply going through the motions. At some point I decided I needed to get out. I needed to venture out on my own because I was done trying to live up to others’ expectation when the only person whose approval I truly wanted was gone. I made arrangements to take time off from work, bought plane tickets, and the next thing I knew, I was in Frankfurt by myself. I managed to find an apartment in Berlin at the heart of the city. My bags weren’t even unpacked before I set out to explore this new world.
A few blocks from my place was Alexanderplatz, home of Berlin’s iconic television tower. There is also a restaurant called Alex there with a modern and hip looking sign and neon lighting beckoning passersby to enter. How could I resist? It turned out that Alex is a café that serves the most incredible sundaes I had ever seen. Sundae—ice cream, chocolate or caramel syrup, whipped cream, peanuts, and a bright red maraschino cherry, right? Uh, yeah, if you’re at McDonald’s. We’re talking cookie dough and tres leches macadamia ice cream with pineapple, yogurt, whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Not to mention their mouthwatering menu ranging from burgers to steaks to curries to pasta…need I go on? I often found myself here trying different desserts, sitting on the patio (if I went to the one at the Sony Center), taking in the sights and feeling…well, satisfied. Not just my sweet tooth, but somehow, all was right with the world. I was on my own in a place where nobody knew me. No one knew my history, my fears, my dreams, and that was okay because I was free to simply be. Every action I took was of my own volition. I was in complete control of my life at every moment and if I wanted nothing by ice cream for dinner, dammit, I would have it and no one was there to harp on my decision.
Ironically, the spaghetti ice cream is one of the only sundaes I didn’t try while I was in Germany, thus my excitement at a) seeing it in Steinbeck country and b) finally getting a chance to try it. My husband and I finally indulged in dessert for dinner. We enjoyed every bite as we sat at their outdoor table and watched the world go by. And just for a few moments, I remembered the faint taste of perfection that I found in Berlin.
Until next time-