zuppa inglese

'English soup': a layered dessert

It's not a zuppa really or even English, although the name seems to derive from the trifle that members of the Este family of Ferrara may have enjoyed while visiting the court at London (it was very popular in Emilia-Romagna in the 19th century). Others, including the Larousse Gastromique, claim that Lord Nelson may have provided inspired the recipe for trifle in Naples in the early 19th century, when the Brits were so popular that the Italians were keen to try anything British, at least once. Others say it was invented by an Anglo-Florentine housewife who couldn't bear to throw away stale biscuits.

These days it's typically made with Savoiardi biscuits or pan di spagna, dunked in alchermes, and layered with lemon-zest flavoured crema pasticciera. There is often a chocolate layer as well.

Zuppa inglese is regarded as the ancestor of tiramisù, and is a favourite gelato flavour, as well as one of the many nicknames of the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument in Rome, although to us that looks more like a giant typewriter.

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