Food & Drink : Ice cream on the clock

It was sometime between noon and 5 p.m. — and where was that playful Time Warner cable guy, Juan de la Playa? Enjoying a cheerful disregard for your installation appointment, and today’s second trip to the ice-cream parlor at Cincinnati and Zarzarmora. (Juan de la Playa was also happy to give the Current a pseudonym, so he could confidently enjoy his cups of $3.50 Ron de Pasas — a milky, yellow, sugar-spun treat with rum and raisins,)

For the record, SAISD 5th-grader Alex and his dad Raul were not playing hooky on this ice-cream run.

But cable and satellite installers, take note: The outside of the shop known as La Original 100% Michoacana Paleteria y Neveria, an old gas-station-turned-sno-cone, frozen-fruit-bar and ice-cream “filling station,” is painted conspicuously in thickly sour, green-and-yellow stripes. Parked nearby, a white company van can be overlooked while on the clock.

“Behave well, it doesn’t cost you anything,” Juan de la Playa says before leaving with telltale cream in his bristle-and-grey moustache. The ice-cream server in the white apron, Francisco, and the guy who holds open the shop’s glass door for each customer, another Francisco, nod appreciatively at the dicho Juan just dropped.

For 10 minutes, no one else comes into the small, air-conditioned Paleteria, so Francisco and the other Francisco take a cigarette break. They stand beside the lymon-colored walls outside and watch a rival ice-cream seller on a three-wheeled bicycle, a roving arm of the popular El Paraiso Ice Cream on Fredericksburg Road. “He’s no competition,” Francisco-with-the-apron says with a wolfish grin. The vendor huffs his way through the intersection, the bells on his handlebars ringing weakly.

La Original 100% Michoacana Paleteria y Neveria
850 N. Zarzarmora
Cash only
Hours: vary
Not wheelchair-accessible

“That’s a dangerous job. It’s easy for him to be robbed,” says the other Francisco, who, as it turns out, is not actually employed to open the door at the Paleteria. He’s the janitor at the Sombras Night Club across the street. So it’s okay when he tips back the withered brown bag holding a beer.

“Painted this way,” he says, admiring the ice-cream shop’s exterior, “people won’t mistake it for a cantina.”

Your pleasure centers won’t likewise mistake the cane-sugar-and-corn-syrup offerings inside, and, should you make an ice-cream run on the clock, know, as you’re enjoying the smooth, icy mouthfeel of a frozen cream and strawberry bar ($1.25), that you’re doing your part to bump frozen desserts up on the list of causes of lost worker productivity (behind office betting pools, internet misuse, illness, and drug abuse).

- Keli Dailey


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