Friday, September 19, 2008

Ice Cream Wishes

A lot of this post deals with Yoko Ono.

One night many years ago when I was a freshman in college I spent what seemed like hours, stoned out of my mind, standing in front of the menu board of the school's late-night snack bar, The Tea Room, trying hard to pick the perfect munchie-crunching taste treat.

Suddenly There It Was - Chocolate Marshmallow Ice Cream!! I knew instantly that it was my favorite flavor even though I can't remember ever having tasted it before that night.

And so it was - Chocolate Marshmallow was indeed my favorite flavor of ice cream for many years afterward. When I arrived in California I found that chocolate marshmallow ice cream was called Rocky Road and made with bits of real marshmallows. How bizarre. Yuchh. It had been the swirls of sweet marshmallow creme inside the chocolate which sealed my passion. Life went on and new flavors replaced chocolate marshmallow on top of my fave list.

Tutti Gelato Pasadena CA
Years later -- many years later -- at Tutti Gelato, a small ice cream spot hidden away in the corner of an off-street courtyard in Old Pasadena - I again studied the menu, completely straight this time, searching for the perfect after-dinner taste treat. Here's a picture of the menu. Click it to enlarge. What would you have picked?

Tutti Gelato Pasadena CA flavor board
My choice? A combination of mascarpone and sour cherry gelato in a cup. In my mind the smooth creamy cheesy mascarpone and the tart bright citrus sour cherry instantly became the perfect flavor combination - just as chocolate and marshmallow had years before. I decided that I must have it.

Alas, they were out of one flavor (or the other). I returned to Tutti Gelato many times over the years - okay it was about a half dozen times over two years - and either they were out of one flavor (or the other) or they were too busy or I was too stuffed after dinner or something.

But then, a couple weeks ago, on a Sunday morning, just at opening time, I scored the perfect cup of gelato: half mascarpone and half sour cherry. Here's a picture I took just before my first highly anticipated bite.

Tutti Gelato Pasadena CA sour cherry and mascarpone gelato
Disappointment. The mascarpone wasn't cheesy enough. The sour cherry wasn't terribly sour - more like a watered down cherry soda flavor. My taste bud imagination had let me down big time. I was highly dissatisfied. Plain old chocolate would have been so much better.

To be fair Tutti Gelato serves great ice cream and sorbet. I would not hesitate to suggest that you try it. The problem was that I had imagined such a high level of unobtainable perfection in the synthesis of flavors.

Disillusioned, I wandered around that off-street courtyard (click here for satellite view). In the courtyard there's a Crate and Barrel at one end, a trendient Italian restaurant at the other. There's a micro-brewery and a Johnny Rockets and a sushi bar. There's a movie multi-plex. There are a couple more even more trendient boutiques and a sculpture of plexiglass workmen digging a trench. Click on the next picture for a panorama shot of the whole courtyard.

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA
What I found in the middle of the courtyard that Sunday was an ongoing interactive art project by Yoko Ono. It's called Wish Tree. Here are Yoko's old fashioned fluxian instructions:
Wish Piece by Yoko Ono (1996)
Make a wish

Write it down on a piece of paper
Fold it and tie it around a branch of a Wish Tree
Ask your friends to do the same
Keep wishing
Until the branches are covered with wishes

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA
Each tree has a little set of steps so the top branches can be reached. Pencils and little tie-on cards are provided. From a distance the trees look like they are blooming a lot of white flowers. In my imagination the cards were provided in many different colors: chocolate, sour cherry and the like.

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA
Here's some description of the project at Yoko's website. She tells of tying wishing papers to trees as a young child in temples in Japan. The notion of supplicating the higher powers with a words on a small piece of paper probably exists in many religions. Here it is, in action at the Western Wall, serving an important function in the religion of U.S. presidential politics. The ancient Jews didn't have many trees to tie their wishes to. But they had plenty of rocks.

Barack Obama making a wish at the Western wall
I wandered around the courtyard reading peoples wishes. No one folded their cards as Yoko instructed. Most, as is predictable, ask for health or wealth for themselves or for loved ones. Peace for the world. Love. A few, however, were much less predictable. I snapped photos of my favorites.

I wish I had a rocket propelled corgi! Adorable.

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA rocket propelled corgi
I wish for my sunglasses to make me look sexy!

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA sexy sunglasses
I wish to swirl forward

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA swirl forward
I wish I had another wish - Nathan

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA wish I had another wish
I wish I wans't dyselxic

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA wish I wasn't dyslexic
I wish for the chance to make a difference with
my music and go to music school - Melinda

(Poor Melinda. Someday she'll find out how little effect music has on the real world.)

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CAmusic school
A lot of ice cream!
(I suggest you avoid combining mascarpone & sour cherry)

Yoko Ono Wish Trees Pasadena CA lot of ice cream

How to make marshmallow videos: here (yuchh) or here (yuchh yuchh yuchh)

Search for the phrase "chocolate marshmallow ice cream"

Mascarpone and Sour Cherry Tags: . . . . . . . . . . . .


ericnp said...

OK, I hate you for the ice cream temptation--day 9 of my torturous diet. Your ultimate disappointed was inconsequential.

But the wish tree thing. I have not seen this before, as far as I recall. Yet recently I started hanging my business card to leaves on branches of trees that lend themselves to eye-level visibility. I usually use a paper clip. Maybe I'm onto something?

Probably not...

Anonymous said...

in the middle of a shave i call your name
oh yoko, oh yoko, my love will
turn you on