Spaghettieis: Germany’s trick ice cream sundae
Susannah Edelbaum/ BBC:
At ice cream parlours around Germany, you might come across a perplexing menu item, simply labelled Spaghettieis. Eis is the German word for ice cream, and spaghetti means the same thing in German as it does in English, Italian and a host of other languages, so one may wonder what sweet-savoury concoction this could possibly be. Trying to spot Spaghettieis at someone else’s table won’t clear much up, either – from afar, the dish looks an awful lot like long, thin noodles covered in tomato sauce and a generous dusting of Parmigiano.
But get closer, and you’ll notice that the noodles seem to be melting. Spaghettieis (which is also written as Spaghetti-Eis) is a sweet, kitschy joy, prepared from vanilla ice cream or gelato pushed through a spätzle press (a tool similar to a potato ricer that is used to make German egg noodles) over a pile of whipped cream. The “noodles” are topped with strawberry sauce and grated white chocolate. This airy trick sundae is the brainchild of Dario Fontanella, the second-generation owner of Eis Fontanella Eismanufaktur Mannheim in the city of Mannheim in south-west Germany, whose goal in 1969 was to create an ice cream version of a classic Italian pasta dish.
For Easter, I was given a white chocolate Easter egg, and a piece of it grated with a cheese grater completed this new creation. It was an image for the gods,” the inventor declared. Spaghettieis went on Eis Fontanella’s menu, where it initially fooled disappointed children, whose parents ordered it for them for the first time as a surprise. “They wanted to eat ice cream and not noodles, so some got teary-eyed,” said Fontanella. Eventually kids started catching on and embraced the fanciful dessert. After it became a hit at Eis Fontanella, the trompe l’oeil dish was slowly imitated throughout Germany. “This new specialty must have first become known by word-of-mouth,” said Fontanella. “At that time there was no social media, it just got around among colleagues [in the ice cream world],” he explained. Tanja Rylewicz, the owner of Meine Kleine Eiszeit, an ice cream cart stationed in Berlin’s Alt-Stralau neighbourhood, recalls a lifelong fondness for the dessert. “I’ve loved Spaghettieis since I was three or four. We ate it with the whole family every weekend at the ice cream shop in the town where I was born, in Oldenburg,” she said. Many Germans under 60 may very well break into a rapturous ode when asked about Spaghettieis, but that doesn’t mean the dessert has always been easy to find. “It was very popular when I was a young child. But then for 10 or 15 years, it was completely gone,” said Rylewicz. Eis Fontanella never stopped serving its signature creation, of course, but around the rest of the country, smaller urban outfits seemed to turn their focus onto trendy flavours like basil and salted caramel. For a while, at least, Spaghettieis was a dish you’d be more likely to find at either a long-established ice cream parlour at the edge of town, or in cities at a big cafe serving commercially made ice cream or gelato. But Spaghettieis has been re-emerging. It’s on the menu at iconic institutions like Sarcletti, Munich’s oldest ice cream parlour, and hip Berlin locations like Rylewicz’s cart, which has no other sundae-making apparatus other than a professional Spaghettieis press screwed onto the vehicle’s tiny counter. And of course, there’s always the original, Eis Fontanella in Mannheim. Rylewicz estimates that over the past five years, the dessert’s prevalence on menus has been slowly growing, and at her own cart, it’s as popular as ever – at least among Germans.