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Jun 28 2013

An English-Inspired Dessert in Italy… Surprised?

Whenever there is a poll about the best food in the world, Italian cuisine is always ranked in the top five.  Although we have some great chefs and dishes in the UK, I don’t think we ever make it into the top ten, let alone the top five.  So, you can imagine my surprise and glee :), as an Englishwoman, when I found out that there is an Italian dessert based on one that is English.  Yes, you heard me, there is an Italian dessert inspired by the English!  I decided that this had to be my Foto Friday for this week, especially since many of the foreign students I have taught in the UK have never been blown away by our culinary delights.

Before I go any further, I need to set the scene.  I made this discovery while I was sitting down, having enjoyed yet another long, very filling, but tasty meal.  This time it was in a traditional Italian family restaurant near Sant’Agata Feltria in Romagna, which is accessed by a long and very windy road through some stunning countryside.

Just before it was served, I was told about this dessert and I tried to guess what it might be.  They said that it is made with sponge, there is a yellow sauce made from eggs and milk and it is topped with a red sauce.  With that description, the only dessert I could think of was… trifle.  ‘Would they really be serving me trifle?’, I wondered.  I hadn’t had trifle for years.  Could it really be trifle?  I didn’t have to wait very long before I found out that I was…

dessert, pudding, sweet, italy, romagna, trifle, english

I was right… it was trifle!  I was so stunned that you could have literally blown me down with a feather, if I had been standing up.  Thankfully, I was sitting down at the time.  I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that in this traditional Italian trattoria, in the middle of nowhere, I had just been served… trifle!

Well, it’s actually their version of trifle which they call  ‘Zuppa Inglese’ (English Soup).  It looks similar to the English-inspired dessert but the texture and taste is quite a bit different to traditional English trifle.

So, why did the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy take this English dessert to their hearts?  It’s not very clear but, according to Wikipedia, one theory is that, in the 16th century, the Italian gentry in Ferrara had close links with England and they wanted to recreate a dessert they had enjoyed in the Elisabethan court.  Whatever the reason, it has stuck and is part of this region’s traditional cuisine, which they tend to save for special occasions such as Easter and Christmas.

Location

This is where I was introduced to Zuppa Inglese…

Have your say

Do you have know of any other English-inspired dishes in other countries?

Disclosure

**This lunch was part of the #romagnadiffusa project.  I would like to thank my hosts Alessandra from 21Grammy, Giancarlo from Albergo Diffuso, and Trattoria Ciccioni for the fabulous meal and hospitality and for introducing me to Zuppa Inglese!

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.

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