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Manuel’s Got The Opposition Licked

April 4, 2015 Destination Feature, Headline News No Comments Email Email

Coromoto Ice Cream Parlor Founder_with_Guinness_Book.Wmedia.rszWHEN Henry Heinz proudly announced to the world away back in 1896 that his company now had “57 Varieties” of preserved foodstuffs, it was enough to have many shoppers almost dizzy at the mere thought. 

But what they didn’t know was that Mr Heinz in fact had well over those 57 varieties, and that he’d simply chosen the number to go on his labels because he reckoned 5 was his own lucky number and 7 that of his wife.

Today the HJ Heinz company and the-near 20 other major international food brands it owns, including Australia’s Golden Circle and New Zealand’s Wattie’s, between them make a far more dizzying near-6000 “varieties” from baby-foods to sauces, bagels to frozen vegetables, canned and bottled tropical fruits, dietary lines and health foods.

Coromoto Ice Cream Parlor crowded exterior.cip

HELPING lick the opposition – fans turn up in their scores at Manuel’s Coromoto

   Ice Cream Parlour.

 It’s a far cry from the day in 1869 that a 25 year old Henry whipped-up and bottled his first creation of Evaporated Horseradish to a recipe given him by his mum, and with his tomato sauce – of which 11-billion single-serve packets and 650-million bottles now sell annually world-wide  – not coming until seven years later.

Jump forward 111 years to 1980 and to South America’s Venezuela where a Portuguese immigrant, Manuel da Silva Oliveira also launches himself into a food-making venture, which like that of Mr Heinz makes an extraordinary impact.

And although not quite in the same league as Mr Heinz, it’s earned Mr Oliveira a place in the Guinness Book of Records for creating and offering more flavours of ice-creams in one ice-cream parlour than any other place anywhere else in the world – a mind-boggling 860 of them.

Coromoto Ice Cream Parlor list on wall.cip.rsz

TAKE your pick: you’ve 860 flavours to do it from.

 There’s the to-be-expected vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and caramel of course, but it’s the 850 or so others that have made Manuel Oliveira the talk of the ice-cream making world, with devotees happy to queue in the sun along the footpath outside his Coromoto Ice Cream Parlour in the university city of Merida.

But many of these flavours have first-time visitors doing an initial double-take, particularly those with a possibly squeamish tummy: how do you think you’d go facing a cup of ice-cream infused with the flavours of sardines steeped in brandy? Or with ham and cheese, mushrooms and red wine, spaghetti and cheese, tuna, chilli-tomato… even bacon and egg?

Each served-up in a cup or on a plate from around AU$1 a scoop.

After Manuel Oliveira moved to Venezuela from Portugal early in the second half of the last century he got himself a job in a local ice-cream factory – and began wondering why ice-cream makers were not more adventurous with their offerings?

Coromoto Viagra ice-cream.WMedia.rsz

THE name may get your hopes up, but that’s about all: this Viagra’s purely honey  and pollen.

So he started experimenting at home blending fresh avocados into unflavoured ice-cream, and after some 50kg or so of trials, came up with what he thought was an enticingly new conception. And so enthusiastically did friends as well, that in 1980 he resigned from his regular job and opened the Coromoto Ice Cream Parlour.

It was an instant success, with every litre of his avocado ice-cream selling out as quickly as he made it. Soon he began adding new flavours to go along with his avocado and more traditional vanilla, chocolate, strawberry and coconut… flavours like vodka and pineapple (or lime,) Pepsi Cola, cognac, tequila and of course that Venezuelan staple, rum.

Then he got even more ambitious, churning into his vats smoked trout, cream of crab, chicken, cheddar cheese… even a local saltwater shellfish called Chipi Chip until his Coromoto Ice Cream Parlour was recognised by the Guinness Book of Records for its mainstay 860 flavours.

Coromoto Spag and Cheese icecream.Flkr.rsz

SPAGHETTI and Cheese ice cream may be easier to face than sardines steeped  in brandy.

Normally only around 70 or 80 are offered daily and dependent on seasonal fresh produce availability. Most are obviously-named, but there are some odd-balls like British Airways, I’m Sorry Darling, Polar Bear and Titanic of which we’ve no idea what to expect…. and while the blue-coloured Viagra Hope may have some anticipating pleasant delights to follow a seemingly-innocent ice-cream sundae, it is flavoured purely with honey and pollen.

And for the truly adventurous there’s a dinner plate of five ice-cream portions flavoured with the ingredients of one of Venezuela’s most traditional meals called Pabellon Criollo – spicy shredded beef in one ice-cream ball, and rice, banana, cheese and black beans in individual others.

We wonder what Mr Oliveira might think of next?


Written by : David Ellis

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