Wherever your travels take you, you can speak the universal language of ice cream!
In 2019, you’re likely to find regular chocolate ice cream anywhere, but if you want a little more culture, we’ve got you covered. Below you’ll find out how to say ice cream in seven different languages from around the world, and you’ll learn a little about the unique takes on ice cream you can find in each country. It might just make you start planning an international ice cream tasting tour.
In Mexico, they have paletas, a kind of popsicle that can be water- or cream-based. While in bigger cities like Mexico City, you could find helados or nieves, which are closer to ice cream and sorbet, respectively. However, you’ll find Mexicans typically don’t eat very much ice cream! If you want a more traditional experience, go to a paleteria, or popsicle shop, and pick from a variety of flavors, everything from strawberry and lime to tamarind and cinnamon. Unlike American popsicles, which are often made with artificial flavors and dyes, paletas are made with fresh, blended fruits and herbs.
In Italy, they have gelato, a creamy, silky ice cream. Italian gelato is made with a custard base, including lots of eggs. This makes it denser and smoother than American ice cream, which is made with just milk, sugar, and cream. Gelato also has more sugar and less air than American ice cream. In contrast to thick, smooth gelato, American ice cream is light and fluffy. Gelato comes in hundreds of flavors, but if you’re in Italy, visit a gelateria (we recommend at least two scoops a day), and try a traditional Italian flavor like pistacchio, mandorla (almond), nocciola (hazelnut), fior de latte (cream), or stracciatella (cream with chocolate chunks).
In Japan, they have mochi, ice cream balls covered in non-sweet rice paste. The rice paste on the outside forms a chewy but not sticky coating, so you can pick up the ice cream ball and bite right into it. Mochi comes in flavors like green tea, mango, black sesame, strawberry, and vanilla. If you’re visiting Japan, you can try mochi, but you should also try popular Japanese ice cream flavors that you can’t find in the U.S. Would you try wasabi, miso, soy sauce, or tofu skin ice cream?
In France, they have glace. French ice cream is kind of a hybrid between American ice cream and Italian gelato. It’s made with the same custard base (lots of eggs) as Italian gelato, but it incorporates more cream, making it lighter than gelato and closer to American ice cream. If you’re in France, conduct your own taste test with a glace au chocolat (chocolate ice cream), and let us know which kind you prefer!
Germans love their ice cream. In fact, they eat more of it than any other European country! Germany is especially known for vanilla ice cream that looks just like spaghetti. It’s called spaghettieis, which is vanilla ice cream pushed through a pasta maker so it resembles strings of noodles. Then they cover it with a red berry compote as sauce and dust it with white chocolate or coconut to resemble cheese. This unique ice cream invention was first made by Dario Fontenella in 1969, and it has spread throughout the German-speaking world in the years since.
In Korea, they have patbingsu, a shaved ice with sweet toppings. The base of patbingsu is made of shaved ice with sweet red bean paste, which you top with a variety of ingredients like condensed milk, rice cakes, fresh fruit, or fruit syrup. Today, you can find more flavors than just red bean, like green tea or coffee. With these red bean-less variants, Koreans drop the “pat” and call them bingsu. Bingsu is a refreshing and delicious treat after a hot day.
In India, they have kulfi, a frozen dessert that is very similar to what we know as ice cream. Kulfi is also frozen dairy, but it’s not whipped or churned like ice cream, so it’s denser, creamier, and more like custard. Because it’s so dense, it melts more slowly, making it the perfect dessert for residents of the hot countries from India through the Middle East who eat kulfi. You can find kulfi in many flavors, but the traditional flavors are rose, pistachio, saffron, mango, cardamom, and cream.
In Turkey, they have dondurma, an elastic and chewy ice cream. You might have seen videos of street vendors in Turkey serving ice cream. They have long metal scoops that stick to the ice cream cone, and they’re known to fake out their customers, offering them the cone attached to their long scoop, then pulling it back. They can do that because the texture of Turkish ice cream is so different from American ice cream.
Dondurma is sticky and elastic, and it can be stretched, pulled, and chewed. It’s thickened with something called salep, mastic is added to give it the chewy quality, then it’s worked with mallets throughout the freezing process to keep it flexible. This unique ice cream has a higher melting point and stays solid more easily in hot climates like Turkey. The mastic also gives dondurma a slight savory flavor.
Now that we know how to say “ice cream” in several languages from around the world, we might move on to learning “Bring Joy Home” next!
Are you interested in more ice cream facts? Check out these Joy blog posts to brush up on your ice cream knowledge: