To live in California’s capital is to know the jungle-style heat of the summer, which always arrives well before the season’s official first day, which is today.
The sky bakes like a tile. The sidewalks shimmer. Visitors in sunglasses wonder what the pioneers were thinking.
The native, however, knows that there’s a secret to summer in Sacramento, an experience that other parts of the state have never quite perfected: the art of standing under the burning sun, eyes closed, skin warm, lips a little bit fevered, and savoring the sweet cold of a perfect scoop of ice cream.
No place in California does ice cream like Sacramento. They just don’t. Oh, San Francisco has its studied nooks and Los Angeles has its drive-thru chains. But neither has all the ingredients for the experience to achieve transcendence – the nearby cows; master artisans; three-digit heat; sticky summer-job kids, strenuously scooping; the vintage neighborhood hangouts and their rivalry.
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This may explain the ongoing ice cream parlor debate here, where the official summer sport sometimes seems to be Vic’s vs. Leatherby’s vs. Gunther’s. Last week, Gunther’s scored; in one of those clickbait surveys, Business Insider named the 75-year-old landmark with the juggling neon sign the “best place for ice cream” in the state. We won’t take sides. But we will salute our capital of ice cream on this first hot summer day.