Epiphany Gelato

By Isabel March

ROME, Italy

I came to Gelateria del Teatro unprepared, unsuspecting, and unknowing.

I was going to buy gelato, after all—tasty but unmemorable, filling but not fulfilling. I was expecting the same experience I had every time I purchased gelato: buy it, eat it, and move on with my life.

O, me of little faith!

With its unassuming façade and a simple, white-walls interior, I probably would not have given Gelateria del Teatro a second glance. But I’d heard rumors—a recommendation from my professor, a TripAdvisor rating online—and so I came to the Gelateria with moderately high expectations for a pleasant cup of gelato. After a sample of one of their many unique flavors—white chocolate basil—I knew that something was different. I knew that I had found the holy grail of gelatos, the pièce de résistance of the dessert world.

In short, I had experienced a gelato miracle in the holiest city of them all.

Gelateria del Teatro greeted me in all my childish ignorance with open arms. Like a parent teaching their child the lessons of life, it sweetly and patiently led me into the light—it gave me vision where I was once blind, brought color to a world of pale grays, and gave to my senses feelings hitherto unknown.

I had been a soul, lost adrift in a sea of subpar gelaterias. How meager had been my existence! With each crescendo of pineapple mint, with every vibrating undertone of creamy chocolate pumpkin, a powerful symphony of flavor crashed through my senses. Each sundrenched bite of Sicilian almond or starlit sample of Chocolate and wine pierced the veil of darkness that had once cloaked my taste buds.

Though once lost, I am now found. Never again can I go back to the ways of my misguided past. Never again can I fall victim to the flashy mess of chemicals and creams in every storefront that dares to call itself “gelato”. I will judge quickly and harshly—if, in the first bites, I do not experience a complete and total awakening of mind and soul, I will put down the spoon, and leave.

This spiritual, culinary transformation, however, has left me with a problem:

When I leave Rome, how will life go on? How will I have the strength to face any frozen dessert without dissolving into tears, mourning the loss of my one true love (the gelato, that is)?

This gelato, then, will have to become a memory. I will hold it close to my heart and try to recall its every flavorful detail when I find myself losing faith in the dessert industry. The memory of this gelato will propel me through the horrors of American cuisine—I will not, at the sight of a McFlurry or Twinkie, throw up my hands in surrender, accepting the death of dessert.

No. I will move through life knowing that out there, though miles away, exists a source of inspiration, flavor, and damn good gelato.

There is indeed a higher power, and it is the Gelateria del Teatro.

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