Last summer when I was in Tuscany (she wrote oh-so-casually, trying to sound like a world traveler), my sister and I joked that we wanted all our days to be two gelato days. It would not have been hard because we found amazing gelaterias in every town we visited (and did sometimes indulge at noon and again before heading back to our villa). We liked the fact that the servers always urged us to try two flavors at once in our cones, which we tried to keep in the same family, such as raspberry and lemon or chocolate and cream, although others were more daring and went for random combinations. On a hot day, gelato is indescribably delicious. Europeans do seem to take their gelato seriously, and in Vienna there is even a special flavor for dogs.
However, I really think ice cream is better, and I rejoice in the abundance of ice cream available in Massachusetts, after so many years in NY where ice cream is an afterthought. NPR had a piece recently on the anniversary of the banana split, but in my opinion a plain cone (preferably two scoops!) is preferable to a fancy sundae. My favorite flavor is peppermint stick, and is available commercially from Brigham's, at least in Massachusetts. In my childhood, Brigham's operated many little restaurants, including one in Newton Centre, where we sometimes persuaded my father to buy us cones on the way home from church in the summer. My sister says they were only 20 cents! There are still a few locations but the one in downtown Boston closes at 5 pm (twice I got there just as they shut down, which was most annoying - also foolish - why not stay open until after rush hour?). Luckily, many grocery stores sell the ice cream. People love the locally themed flavors such as Big Dig (our dreadful tunnel construction), Dice-Kream (in honor of our new pitcher), and Fluffernutter (invented in Lynn, MA).
Last week, in Cape Cod, we visited Four Seas, which had been recommended to us by our friend Elayna, and it definitely lived up to expectations. Although my favorite part of our excursion was not even the ice cream but when my not quite 2 1/2 nephew said firmly (and repeatedly) to the server, "Chocolate in a cone, NOT A CUP!" As an adult, you forget what a rite of passage it is to be finally considered old enough to cope with a cone. My nephews are really not that skilled at licking. James proudly said he was biting his cone, but there was not much point in instructing otherwise! Coping with a cone is simply a skill one acquires with age. Several trips were made to Four Seas but we also liked a place in Osterville called Gone Chocolate, right on Main Street.
When my family lived in Brighton, there was an ice cream truck called Arthur's, that served our street. The ice cream novelties were nothing special (although seemed very desirable at the time!) but it was fun to watch the neighborhood kids running to coax their mothers into buying. Now Boston seems to have far too many angry citizens complaining about the tunes from the trucks - what a bunch of scrooges!