‘A hard earned thirst calls for an ice-cold gelato. Choose Chicho Gelato.’ That is what I think should be on every billboard on Perth, maybe a jingle on the local radio, perhaps even a short spot on community television. I came to this conclusion as I hit the end of the working week. As you might know, early starts and the 9-5ish grind are not my normal operating hours. This week I had a couple of extra classes at the uni so had to adjust when I got out of bed. But, I was happy. I like teaching and it brings a sense of satisfaction to know that you have earned your crust giving students something to think about. I try to make my classes safe for everyone, and, we have all kinds of people in there – kids from religious minorities, kids transitioning, kids up from the country. And they come to us to learn about literature, and, in the process about themselves, life and the world. It is a privilege to engage with them. But, that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy my self when I finish up for the day, week or year.
I have friends in the public service and corporate sector, and, without fail, they go out on Friday after work. They are not drowning their sorrows but celebrating the wins they have had and the fact they get to spend the weekend sleeping in or taking their kids to sport or having a sausage sizzle somewhere in the sun. For the most part, I work by myself, with freelancers and academics, and, there is not really a culture of end of work drinks. That makes the rituals more individual, and, this week, I found myself at a late meeting with a community partner in Northbridge. I was done for the week but they were all coming back to the office tomorrow. I was an hour from home by public transport, and, I had a cornucopia of delights right there in front of me. What would I do?
I thought about a beer at any one of the local watering holes from Mechanics Institute to Bivouac to PICA Bar. And, I love them all for dipping into. Then I thought maybe a cheeky pani puri from Sauma down the road, but I am off to Bombay in a month, and decided it was better to hold off until I was in the heartland for that stuff. Then I wondered about some sushi as a snack as I walked to the train station on my way home. It all did not cut the mustard. Drinking alone is not something I want to get into, nor late-in-the-day sushi when dinner will be on the table soon. It also needs to feel like a celebration.
What else to choose but gelato?
Chicho is, hands down, my favourite gelato in the Perth metro. I might even think it is the best I have had in Australia. When I lived in Melbourne, I had some very memorable moments at Messina in Fitzroy. And when Pidapipo came to Carlton down the road I gave it a red hot go. But Chicho is home. I often go at odd hours – just when they open for a brunch gelato by myself, right after work as people are racing to make their commute, before a theatre show. I am often served quickly and with good humour. This is partly what makes them special. It suggests the attentiveness and care that go into everything they do. From the design to the décor to the Instagram, I find myself thinking, hey, they must really like gelato. They show me what is possible. They lead me towards what is good, and every now and then, you need to be reminded of the fact that there is world class quality right on your doorstep.
For my knock off gelato, I ordered a scoop of this month's collaboration gelato, Pineapple Lumps. This was made with input from Albany chef Amy Hamilton who runs the kitchen at Liberté. I have never had the Kiwi lolly it is named after, so I cannot compare it to that. But it was delicious. It has chocolate crackle bits, chocolate bits, pineapple swirl, creamy gelato. And it is topped with a wafer that has pineapple sherbet inside. It all comes together into a messy good time, a way of taking the essence of pineapple, summer, fun into your mouth all at once. All I can think is that this is the way to celebrate the end of the working week. Gelato is living. Chicho is living. This is living.
When I was a child, my uncle used to tell me that he would buy me an ice cream when he won lotto. That day never came, but we ate ice cream together down by the wharf in Fremantle on more than one occasion. That same uncle liked a knock off beer as well, but here, all I can think of is that he would love this Pineapple Lumps just as much, if not more. And that surely is more than we can ask for from anyone who is serving up happiness for the same amount as it takes to ride the bus home. And the dusk fell and the birds rose to the sky and all was right with the world. More gelato for all! More Chicho to quench a hard earned thirst. Come with me next time I go.