A German-Italian hybrid: Spaghettieis

A German-Italian hybrid: Spaghettieis

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

One of the best experiences on a warm summer’s day in Germany is to meander through a city’s Altstadt and drop by one of its many "Eiscafés," ice cream places. One can either hope to snag a table outdoors and feast on a fancy gelato dessert served in a bowl the size of a baby’s head, or just grab a cone with a scoop or two and eat it on the run.

When opting for the former, there’s a very special dessert with a unique appearance that may suggest Italy, but is, in fact, a German innovation: "Spaghettieis." What resembles a heaping plate of pasta is entirely concocted of sweet treats. What gives?

This optical illusion is created in a few simple steps. First, a heap of deeply chilled whipped cream is placed upon a plate to serve as the base. Next, vanilla ice cream is pressed through a special kind of sieve to create the appearance of spaghetti and heaped around the cream. A strawberry sauce poured over the top stands in for tomatoes. The finishing touch is white chocolate shavings, a look-alike for the parmesan cheese. (Some places will substitute coconut flakes in place of the white chocolate, to which we can only say nein!)

Of course, variations exist and nowadays you can order a carbonara version featuring nuts or one with ice cream noodles that are made of chocolate.

The backstory of Spaghettieis reflects recent German history. The creamy dessert was the brainchild of one Dario Fontanella, whose dad had migrated to Germany to open up an ice café. He founded his new business in Mannheim. Dario, inspired by a labor-intensive dessert he’d once eaten back in Italy, created his Spaghettieis prototype out of pistachio, lemon and strawberry ice cream–colors that reminded him of the Italian flag. His dad was not impressed, remarking he’d never before encountered colorful spaghetti. So with a few quick tweaks and substitutions, Germany’s classic summertime treat was conjured into being. This creation dating back to 1969 remains as beloved as ever. Lucky for us!

You can enjoy a Spaghettieis virtually anywhere in Germany. To sample one made by the ice cream shop that pioneered it, a pilgrimage to Die Eis Fontanella Café in Mannheim, is in order.

Guten Appetit! Buon appetito!

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