Monday, May 3, 2010

Lemon Gelato – A Scoop of Italian Heaven

by Kelley Lindberg

Buon giorno! (Good day!)

I’m back from my trip to Italy (with a brief stop in Paris), and I have eight million photos to prove it! Lucky for you, I won’t post them all. Maybe just a couple…

Our trip was, of course, fantastic in every way. We spent a day and a half in Paris seeing the usual sites (Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe).
Then we spent ten days in a 100-year-old villa in the tiny historic town of Positano, Italy, on the Amalfi Coast (just south of Naples).

We spent our days wandering up and down the Amalfi Coast, visiting places like Pompeii and Herculaneum – both cities were buried under so much ash from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 A.D. that the houses, buildings, streets, and other structures were incredibly well preserved. Today you can stroll through Roman-era houses with painted frescoes still on the wall, mosaic floors still brilliantly colored and intricate, public bars with their terra cotta wine vats still intact, and even gardens still boasting their reflecting pools, columns, and statues.

It was an incredible experience for my son, too. It’s one thing to read about history in a book. It’s quite another to wander through an ancient, excavated Pompeiian shop and see the containers that held Roman “fast food” and signs still painted on the walls advertising everything from politics to wine prices. 

My son loved every minute of it – even if it seemed at first that he was destined not to indulge in any Italian gelato. He was really looking forward to Italian gelato. (My fault: I’ve been telling him for years that Italian ice cream is the best in the world!) But most of the gelaterias we encountered were cross-contamination nightmares. All the flavors were in small bins very close to each other, and the fanciest places piled their bins high with the frozen treat, topping them with real pistachios, hazelnuts, and other hazards.

Eventually, though, we did manage to find two or three gelaterias where my son could indulge. Fortunately, his favorite flavor is lemon, and lemon doesn’t get double-dipped with nutty flavors very often. So when we found a gelateria close to our villa where the proprietor made an effort to serve him an uncontaminated scoop of lemon gelato, we quickly found ourselves making repeat visits there (sometimes twice a day!). We also found a place in Amalfi that served nothing but lemon flavors of gelato. The owner claimed he used lemons from his own trees (the Amalfi Coast is famous for its lemons) and promised there were no nuts in the whole place. My son was in heaven!

Here’s a photo of him enjoying his very first gelato limone.

Next week, I’ll tell you about our experience finding safe breads and pastas. (Sneak preview: I’m still not certain how wide-spread the use of lupin flour is!)



Anonymous said...

How did you find the safe gelaterias?

Kelley J. P. Lindberg said...

First step: peering through windows. If the gelato bins were piled high with nut-filled flavors and decorated with whole nuts (very beautiful presentation, but obviously dangerous for food allergies), we kept on walking. If the bins appeared simpler, with fruit flavors (like lemon or strawberry) far from the chocolate and nut flavors, then we would walk in and talk to the owner. (See for food allergy translation cards - a lifesaver!) Sometimes the owner would shake his head and say he didn't think it would be safe. Once or twice, we found someone who would agree to get a clean scoop and who would try to make sure there was no contamination. That's why the lemon flavor was a good idea -- few people mix lemon with chocolate or nut flavors, so the cross-contamination is lowered. It's a comfort-level thing. That may be too scary for some people, but we were able to find one store we liked. Also, we found a store that served nothing but lemon flavors (about 6 different lemon flavors) and the owner swore there were no nuts in the store at all -- that was the best!

alliebell said...

I know you posted this years ago, but do you have any specific positano restaruant recommendations for nut allergies? I'm terrified since Positano doesn't have a hospital and I have gone into anaphylaxis before. I'll be avoiding desserts for fear of cross contamination but any of your advice would be appreciated. I don't want to miss out on this incredible opportunity!