Imagine you’re five years old and being treated to dessert at an ice cream parlor. As you saddle (or are scooped) up to the counter, you’re met with a bowl of spaghetti and tomato sauce. The tears flow like a flash flood. Before spaghettieis—an ice-cream replica of Italy’s national dish—became a ubiquitous German treat, it did make children cry.
Dario Fontanella is the man responsible for the tears, and the grins that followed. His father moved to Mannheim, Germany, from a town in Northern Italy in the 1930s. When a teenage Fontanella was on break from school in 1969, he decided to honor his family’s homeland with food.
Fontanella, the son of an ice cream parlor owner, recreated an iconic bowl of spaghetti, tomato sauce, and parmesan cheese by feeding vanilla gelato through a chilled spaetzle press. This device extruded thin strands of ice cream shaped like the German egg noodles it was designed to produce. Fontanella placed his ice cream “spaetzle” on a bed of whipped cream and topped it with strawberry “tomato” sauce and white chocolate “parmesan” shavings. A wafer or cookie on the side mimicked a piece of Italian bread.
Today, the dessert is so well-known that no kinder would bat their eyelashes before diving in to a bowl of the faux-spaghetti. And even though Fontanella was awarded the Bloomaulorden—the highest citizen’s award in Mannheim—he never patented the creation. As a result, just about every eisdiele (ice cream parlor) makes some version of the frozen delight. Outside Germany, the sundae that masquerades as dinner remains relatively unknown.
Need to Know
To make your own spaghettieis, press vanilla gelato through a spaetzle press or potato ricer. Top with strawberry sauce and coconut or white chocolate shavings. The higher-premium (aka, higher fat content) the ice cream, the better—it keeps the sundae from melting as quickly.