Selling ice cream in summer, writing crime thriller books in winter – that’s how Marion Schmid’s life is structured. Her perpetrators are freezing cold, so is her organic ice cream. Visiting an ice cream parlour that keeps the neighbourhood together.
It’s hard to believe, but March and April are the best months in the ice cream business. That’s when Marion Schmid pulls up the shutters, turns on the ice machine and opens the season. At last. Warm rays of sunshine chase away the winter and children as well as parents come streaming into the ice box. Licking ice cream for the first time and tasting the spring.
Marion Schmid has been doing this for nine years. Here on Elberfelder Straße in the middle of the Westfälisches Viertel, only one bridge and three cross streets away from the new Charlottenbogen quarter. From March to October, seven days a week, from morning to evening, the ice box is always open.
In the first year she still managed everything on her own. Mixed the ingredients, made the ice cream, stood behind the counter, handed the children their bags and answered the parents’ questions about ingredients. Today, Marion Schmid hires five, six or even seven employees per season. She has to, because the hustle and bustle breaks out here in the afternoon: When the schools are over, the daycare centres close, the next playground is waiting, the queue in and in front of the ice box can become very long. Everywhere, young and old sit, stand and lick. The ice luck in the hand, mouth and face smeared.
Marion Schmid is 64 years old, rather slim, rather small, rather reserved, but when it comes to ice cream and how she invents new flavours and how it tastes to her customers, energy flows through her body into her voice. At the weekly market she gets inspired. Whatever is in season is processed by her: Asparagus ice cream with warm strawberries, for example. Sounds a bit strange, but people love it.
There’s the tonka ice cream. Anyone who licks it “first tastes coconut, then cinnamon, then woodruff,” says Marion Schmid. Tonka is a spice bean from Brazil that is grated into the milk-cream mixture like a nutmeg.
Or saffron ice cream rounded off with blood orange oil. This is their most expensive and finest ice cream, 100 grams five euros. She only does this once a year, always on the birthday of the ice cream box. And her customers like to wait for it … Once, a guy had a whole box of it filled. Several kilos. Normally Marion’s ice cream scoops cost between 1.80 and 2.50 euros.
Marion was looking for a balance to writing back then, nine years ago, when everything started. Since then there’s a life outside the ice-cream shop and a life with the ice-cream shop. In her former life she was also a publisher, director and author. “I came to organic ice cream because I hadn’t eaten any delicious organic ice cream anywhere before and urgently wanted to fill this gap here in my neighbourhood,” she says. Today she has one of the very few certified organic ice cream shops in Berlin. “Once a year, the inspector comes and checks all deliveries and randomly calculates the ingredients and quantities. A huge effort, but important.”
This is important because pastes and flavour enhancers, artificial flavours or powders, 10-litre bucket ready mixes or other products of the food industry do not enter the machine – only the pure organic fruit and as little sugar as possible. “My chocolate ice cream tastes quite bitter compared to the sugar bombs you get elsewhere. But my ice cream kids know and love my ice cream. I’ve managed to accustom them to the pure taste.”
Over the years, the ice box has become a permanent fixture in the neighbourhood. Mothers first came in with their fat bellies, then with their babies in their arms, finally the children came in on their own feet and now they order their ice cream alone. “When the children say mummy first, then daddy and then ice cream, then my heart goes up,” says Marion.
Conclusion: Definitely worth a detour! Marion’s Eisbox is a taste oasis of a special kind in the middle of a nice and quiet neighbourhood in Berlin.