19 May 2011


SARONNO, Italy – It’s five o’clock on a warm, spring Saturday afternoon in Saronno. The sidewalk cafes are crowded with young mothers fashionably dressed in the latest Dolce and Gabbana, spoon feeding gelato to their cooing, round-faced babies. 

The older kids, juggling their own ice cream cones, are gathered around the dads who are clutching handfuls of wrinkled paper napkins and ice cream cones of their own. The dads are doing their best to keep the kids from getting gelato all over themselves, but it doesn’t always work. The gelato always wins.
 Tre Gusti
If you have ever been to Italy you know that the gelato shops, gelaterie, are a force of nature. With showcases filled with tub after tub of creamy gelato in more colors and flavors than any one human could possible come up with. First they lure you in for a better look, and once in - you are hooked. Then you have to make some decisions: cup or cone? Two scoops or three? And what flavors do you want. Ahhh yes, which flavors. Now that’s the hard part. 

In a town like Saronno, where tourists are as rare as ghost orchids, the clerks are used to customers knowing what they want on their three scoop cones. Everyone has their favorites, and even before kids reach teenage-hood, they are masters of combining flavors that complement each other. I’m not so good at that, and often feel intimidated when some 12 year old steps up and orders coconut, chocolate and pistachio faster than I can say, “just crema please.” 
 Which one do I want? Which one do I want?
I remember a large group of American students in Santa Margherita Ligure who had a clever plan. They each bought a different flavor of gelato in a cup, and then they passed the cups around so everyone got a taste of all the flavors. Their goal was to taste every flavor of gelato in that gelateria before they went home. It was going to take a few days, but no one seemed to mind.

Here are 42 of the more common gelato flavors that you will  find in any good gelateria. It is by no means a complete list for every area has its own specialty flavors, and those may vary throughout the summer.  If you are planning a trip to Italy this summer, you just might want to print this list out and put it in your suitcase.

The Flavors

cioccolato fondente (cho-koh-LAH-toh fawn-DEN-teh) – Dark chocolate.
cioccolato al latte (cho-koh-LAH-toh fawn den-teh) Milk chocolate
cioccolato bianco (cho-koh-LAH-toh BEE-ahn-koh) White Chocolate
bacio (BAH-cho) – hazelnut and chocolate. Named for the famous chocolate candies from Perugia
gianduja or gianduia (jahn-DOO-yah) –Milk chocolate and hazelnuts. Named for the famous chocolate candies from Turin  
cioccolato all’arancia (cho-koh-LAH-toh ahl-ah-RAHN-cha) – chocolate orange with either an orange flavor or candied bits of orange peel
Nutella (nu-TELL-ah) named for that fabulous Italian chocolate and hazelnut spread  

pistacchio (pee-STAHK-yoh) – Pistachio  
mandorla (MAHN-door-lah) – Almond
nocciola (noh-CHO-lah) – Hazelnut with no chocolate
fior di latte (fyor dee LAH-tay) – Literally milk’s flower. Kind of like cream, kind of like vanilla, but not either one 
crema (KREH-mah) –  Sweet cream,  vanilla
zabaione (zah-bah-YOH-nay) – Frozen version of zabaglione
caffè (kah-FAY) –  Coffee
crem caramel (crem-CARA-mel) cream with swirls of caramel
panna cotta – (pah-nah-KAW-tah) – literally cooked cream – frozen version of Italian dessert
Yogurt (sometimes spelled jogurt) – yogurt

cocco (KOH-koh) – Coconut
amarena (ah-mah-RAY-nah) –  Cherries in fior di latte 
fragola (FRAH-go-lah) – Strawberry  
lampone (lahm-POH-nay) – Raspberry  
limone (lee-MOH-nay) – Lemon  
mandarino (mahn-dah-REE-noh) – Mandarin orange
melone (meh-LOH-nay) – Melon (usually cantaloupe)
albicocca (al-bee-KOH-kah) – Apricot
anguria –(an GUR-ri-ah) watermelon
fico (FEE-koh) – Fig
frutti di bosco (FROO-tee dee BOHS-koh) –  “forest fruits” like blueberries and blackberries.
mela (MEH-lah) – Apple (also look for mela verde (MEH-lah VEHR-day), or green apple)
pera (PEH-rah) – Pear
pesca (PEHS-kah) – Peach
kiwi – same as in English
menta – (men-TAH) mint

zuppa inglese (TSOO-pah een-GLAY-zay)  “English soup,” frozen version of English trifle 
tiramisu – (TEE- rah-mee sue) Frozen version of famous Italian dessert
cassata – (kah-SAH-tah) Frozen version of famous Sicilian dessert
riso (REE-zoh) – Rice, kind of like rice pudding  
malaga (MAH-lah-gah) – Rum raisin
stracciatella (strah-cha-TEL-lah) – Fior di latte with chocolate bits 
liquirizia (lee-kwee-REE-tzee-ah) – Licorice 
cannella (kah-NEL-lah) – Cinnamon
maron glace’ (mah-rhon GLA-say) – cream with candied chestnuts
puffo (POOF-foh) – Literally “Smurf” – blue ice cream that may taste like licorice or bubble gum, depending on the shop 

The words: Produzione Propria, Nostra Produzione, mean homemade and Produzione Artigianale means “not mass produced in a big factory”.

Cono – (Koh-noh – plural coni - Koh-nee) cone
Coppa –(KOH-pah) cup
Gusto – (GOO-stoh – (plural – GOO-stee) – scoop or flavor
Panna – (PAH–nah) whipped cream

Granite (grah-NEE-teh, flavored iced), Frappe (frahp-PEH, a type of milkshake) and Semifreddo (semi-FRAY-doh - soft ice cream) may also be on the menu.

From an Italian ad for gelato

  A Word of Warning – Before you buy check the price list that by law must be posted in all Italian gelaterie and ice cream stands on the street. Some unsuspecting tourists recently paid $38 for two regular size ice cream cones at a stand on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. The prices were listed, it was all legal.

Auntie Pasta Preview- Next Week: The secrets of making Semifreddo at home.
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