Walter Mencken 2:08 p.m., Aug. 27
Barrio Logan: Eat your fruit!
New fruit and ice cream eatery delivers health the Mexican way
Okay. Here's the menu for dinner: Apples, bananas, sandia (watermelon), mango, piña (pineapple), papaya, melon, strawberries, cottage cheese, granola, coconut, raisins.
We're in Barrio Logan, so Spanglish rules.
'Course I could have had pepino (cucumber), jicama, sandia, mango, piña, papaya, naranja (orange), plus chile, salt and lime to make up a pico de gallo.
Dang. I would have had that. But I didn't see it in time.
Whatever, it's all healthy and refreshing. I'm at Tocumbo Ice Cream (1900 National Avenue, #188-A, Barrio Logan, 619-230-0391).
I walked in here on my way down to the Barrio Logan trolley stop. Brand new. Part of the Mercado del Barrio.
Near the mighty Mercado Northgate Gonzalez, a supermarket that has, like, everything Mexican, from food to clothes.
So I walked in...
...looked at all the ice cream goin' on, and the flavors. I mean, what flavors! Nopal (cactus), guanabana (the soursop, a pawpaw-type fruit that they say tastes like strawberry and pineapple combined with a slightly sour, creamy, bananaish feel to it), mamey (sometimes called the South American apricot), and nanche, a yellow berry from tropical America.
Who knew? Gotta try all of these, except I need a meal to get me through till the main eats tonight. So I get this totally healthy, totally filling fruit salad ($6.49).
No regrets, except I get to talking to Gaby and her husband Mauricio. They're here outside eating ice creams and something called "chongo" with their kids.
"It's a sort of sweet cottage cheese," Gaby says. "Curds, milk, cinnamon, sugar. It reminds me so much of home. Guanajuato."
Meanwhile I'm working through this fruit salad. What a combo. It's a meal, held together by the cottage cheese and the honey and Granola and coconut. I swear, this plaza brings real Mexico up here for the first time. Like Mercado Hidalgo in TJ.
"But why is this place called Tocumbo?" I ask.
"Because Tocumbo is the ice cream capital of Mexico," says Gaby. "Anybody making ice cream in Mexico is probably from Tocumbo."
Turns out Tocumbo's a small town in Michoacán where - no kidding - 90 percent of the population is involved in making ice cream. Gerardo Ramírez and his family started making it up here in San Diego in 2004. Now he's got four places around town.
He opened this last May. Why ice cream? He comes from Cotija, the town right next door to Tocumbo. Cotija's famous for its tacos. But Gerardo thought San Diego needed interesting ice cream more than more tacos.
Wow. You think you know a lot about the 'hood, and the culture next door, and then, like tonight, you realize you still need training wheels.
It's getting dusk, and a crazy squirted fountain is starting to send colored waters around the plaza. Kids tear around on scooters. This could almost be the main plaza in Guanajuato.