Where would you expect to find the ice cream parlor with the most flavors of ice cream, as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records? Rome? Paris? New York?
How about Mérida, Venezuela?
That’s the location of Heladería Coromoto, an ice cream parlor nestled in the Andean hills at the base of the 16,000-foot-high Pico Bolívar. Coromoto was recently paid a visit by Will Grant, correspondent for BBC Radio. Grant discovered selections including chilli, tomato, gherkin, onion, mushrooms in wine, garlic, and cream of crab. Coromoto claims to offer 860 different flavors of ice cream.
Remember that U.S. ice cream chain that used to tout its ‘31 Flavors’? That was then. Coromoto is now.
The place is owned by Manuel da Silva Oliveira, and currently managed by a fellow named Jose Ramirez, who is also part owner. Although Mr. Oliveira doesn’t come around much any more, he set the stage for the operation, which Ramirez has carried on with a flourish. ‘Mr. Oliveira was tired of working for the big ice cream companies,’ Ramirez told the BBC, ‘and he decided that he could make more interesting flavors of his own.’
Coromoto sells about 60 different flavors a day, changing the offerings according to the seasons. On one wall is a listing of its specialties which includes exotic selections such as guava, papaya, mango and passion fruit—along with more outrageous flavors including eggs, macaroni cheese, and sardines-in-brandy. The shop also carries a flavor called Viagra Hope, which is blue in color like the pills, but is merely flavored with honey and pollen. Coromoto also offers several alcoholic choices like Cointreau, cognac, and vodka-and-pineapple.
Grant tasted several of the more unusual flavors in his story for the BBC. He tried the house special, ‘pabellon criollo,’ a traditional Venezuelan meal of beef, rice, plantain, cheese, and black beans in ice cream form. Ramirez warned that it was ‘muy picante’ but Grant had a scoop of each topped off with a half-scoop of chilli flavor and paid a price.
One of the conclusions Grant related with characteristic British understatedness: ‘Perhaps some things, like Cheddar, should not be made into ice cream.’
But I guess if you’re going to have 860 flavors, there are bound to be some clunkers in there.
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