Monday, April 6, 2009

…don’t embarrass yourself.

Here’s a play-by-play of helpful things to know when ordering gelato in Italy:
  • Some gelaterias require you to pay first. Observe the other customers: if they hand the man behind the counter a receipt, you need to find the cash register and pay first.
  • It’s helpful to know that “gusti,” which is often on gelato menus, translates to “tastes.” Ordering “tre gusti” results in you having three scoops, and a choice of three flavors.
  • Cono means cone. Copetta means cup.
  • Often the first scoop you order is the largest, with each scoop that follows being a small top off. Order the flavor you want to most first.
  • Gelato making is an art; treat flavor combinations as one, too. You should be able to taste the flavors individually, but with a logical progression, accounting for melting. For example, chocolate will overpower every flavor, so either put it on top and devour it before it melts over the others or put it on the bottom.
  • In case there aren’t pictures here’s some vocab: fragole = strawberry, lampone = raspberry, frutti di bosco = mixed berry, mandorla = almond, nocciole = hazelnut.
  • Some common flavors you’ll see that you might not recognize are zuppa inglese (based on a custard dessert flavored with a Florentine liqueur, it tastes similar to butterscotch), zabaione (based on a custard dessert flavored with Marsala wine) and stracciatella (chocolate chip). Some other flavors you’ll see, like Bacio, are named after popular candies that can be found in Italian grocery stores, newsstands and vending machines.
  • When your cup or cone is full—Mine runneth over—you are likely to be asked, “Panna?” If so, you are being asked if you want whipped cream on top.
Next time: Italian chocolate!

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