Barcelona's Mamá Heladera Serves Up Bechamel-Inspired Ice Cream

Just a spoonful of ice cream can conjure up strong memories from childhood, both good and bad. Maybe there's a particular flavor you always had on your birthday, or maybe there was a kind you were offered after getting your shots at the doctor's office. When it comes to evoking memories through ice cream, Barcelona's Mamá Heladera is at the top of the game. 

Upon opening her shop in 2021, Irene Iborra wanted to use ice cream to tell stories of the past. Maybe it was a desire to return to feelings of joy and normalcy during a pandemic, but whatever the impetus was, Iborra's goal was in motion. After sending out a Google survey to her community, she took the suggestions and began experimenting with flavors. "[We did] a survey before opening the ice cream parlor," Iborra said. "I wanted to know what flavors people remembered from their childhood and I asked for [their favorite] childhood flavors, preparations, and aromas." While you can imagine Iborra being flooded with suggestions like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, or mint, it turns out that people gave her some more unorthodox suggestions. Eager to please, Iborra and her team chose not to shy away from odder flavor concepts. 

A sweet twist

After surveying the public, Irene Iborra got flavors that you might not expect. "One of the flavors that was repeated the most was that of the grandmother's cannelloni or the croquettes that were prepared at home," Iborra says. "Going to the kitchen and scraping up what was left after serving the food, tasting the sauce when they made it, eating the croquette dough that was resting in the fridge... there were many memories." 

Croquettes are very popular in Spain, and one of the main ingredients is béchamel, so Iborra decided to experiment with béchamel ice cream. "The flavor base was always the same," she explains. "Dairy flavor, nutmeg, pepper, and salt. This is how ice cream came about. I thought it wouldn't be crazy since lactose gives sweetness to these preparations." Even though béchamel is seldom eaten cold, Iborra was pleased with the end result. "It is a beautiful balance of ingredients," she says. If you find yourself in Barcelona during the warmer months of the year, Mamá Heladera will be there waiting for you to come and create some new memories.