Friday, September 10, 2010

ice cream everywhere

Yesterday I went to my first class. But it had been cancelled. I got there ten minutes early and then waited more than half an hour, but nobody showed up except for two Tulane students who I had met before. We waited together and finally went to the office and asked for the second time. This time they told us that the professor had gotten someone else to cover for her the first week, so the class would be taking place Friday at the same time. Bummer for me, since it's smack during my time at CEDEM which always happens on Fridays. So looks like I have to miss the first class.

Last night I went to the movie theatre for the first time. It was a huge theatre, with multiple sections and stadium style seating. The screen itself was the size that you would expect at a Sarah Lawrence film screening. Not a movie theatre. There was this yellow spot on the screen the whole time. Kind of added to the movie in a few places. The sound quality was good but echoey. It was weird because it kind of sounded like surround sound but also hollow. I really felt the directionality of the sound more than I did in normal movie theaters in the states. The movie, by the way, was Rudo y Cursi which is a movie with Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna. It was hard to understand, pure and simple. But, you know, the plot of movies can usually kind of work itself out without words. The reason it was hard to understand was the rapid, Mexican Spanish. Lots of words that we wouldn't know unless we lived there for a while. The tickets were I think 2 pesos each. Cheap is an understatement.

Afterwards we went to Copellia, the famous ice-cream place and location of the famous scene from Fresa y Chocolate. For those that don't know the movie Fresa y Chocolate, you should rent it. It's about a gay cuban artist and a revolutionary who by chance form a very unlikely friendship. And it all starts when they meet at Coppelia over ice cream. The artist orders Fresa (strawberry), the revolutionary orders Chocolate. I think you get the idea.

When we went to Coppelia though, they brought an "ensalada" which translates as salad. It really is like an ice cream salad, simply because of the quantity of ice cream that arrives. Maybe 4-5 big scoops all melting very quickly and covered in a thin drizzle of chocolate sauce. This costs 5 cuban pesos. I don't even know how much that is US but it's literally pennies. Maybe a nickel and pennies. It was good ice cream. Vaguely pineapple and orange flavored. Seemed like you didn't really get a choice, just whatever the flavor du jour was.

Ice cream here is a simple, inexpensive pleasure. I eat it almost every day, and so it seems does everyone else. You can usually find an ice cream stand by the trickle of people holding cones. So often on the street I see ice cream and immediately start looking nearby. At these little vendors it comes in the form of softserve in a pointed cone. It costs 1 cuban peso (also literally pennies). The texture and flavor vary subtly from anything you are used to in the states. I like it better, in fact. The flavors are kind of washed out, diluted, just a hint. For this reason the chocolate tastes more chocolately and less sweet. More cacoa it seems, although I know it's just a mix they put in the machine.

In fact I should talk about the machine. Really interesting to look at. On the bottom, there's a little motor that looks like it has one cylinder. This functions as the generator. For some reason I find it really satisfying to watch the drip of the ice cream sizzling on the hot motor. This generator turns the fan that cools the refrigerant (I'm guessing). The top of the machine is a box that contains parts I'm not sure. But yesterday I saw how it works. When the guy running the thing ran out of ice cream he opened the lid. Then from a cooler of ice nearby he got out the milky ice cream liquid that was a light orange color (the flavor turned out to be kind of orange sherbert-like). He dumped the buckets into what must've been two compartments that freeze the liquid into ice cream. We waited five minutes for it to work. Then he was ready to serve us, and the ice cream was SUPER cold. Usually it's drippy and melts almost instantly. This fresh batch was much colder than I was expecting.

His helper then took a new container of liquid and stuck it in the cooler with the ice, apparently to prep it for when it runs out again.

I love these simple machines, and the ice cream is always refreshing because it's always hot here! I treat it like a cheap snack if I'm between meals and need something to refresh me or tide me over.

The flavors I've had so far have been good. Some are hard to place, like the one that I couldn't decide if it was annis or something like vanilla. I've also had vanilla/chocolate twist (maybe that's what the two separate canisters in the machine are for!) and also strawberry or guava. Then I had the orange sherbert flavor. Who knows what today will bring...

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