Saturday, January 31, 2009

Mamma Mia, I’m in Love with a Gelateria! ~ La Fata Morgana

This gelateria is tucked into the corner of streets Lago di Lesina and via Nemorense between the African Quarter off Corso Trieste and the bourgeois Parioli area. You can barely see it from Via Nemorense (the cross street), as it doesn’t look like much on the outside but once you step through the doors, it’s a paradise-ical gelato wonderland. Any and every flavor you could possibly imagine, even beyond the feeble mind of normal imagination, will be found there anxiously waiting for the right person to come in for a lick. And for us gluten free-ers, it really is heaven on earth since none of the gelato, not even the cones (!!!) contain our dreaded enemy, gluten. Celiacs, it’s time to go buck wild!

Being intolerant of eggs as well, and sensitive to dairy, I still expected very little. I assumed my choices would be limited to the usual lemon or melon or strawberry sorbet. Limited…yes… to 20 flavors, at least! There’s even chocolate with fructose for those who can’t have sugar. And the adventurous owners are always trying new flavors so usually there’s at least new daring and delightful flavor every time I go (I refuse to say how often I go there but let’s just say I’ve contributed my part to the gelato economy).

The first time I was graced by the icy presents of La Fata Morgana, I was teeter tottering between sobbing for joy, and laughing gleefully and guiltlessly. I walked in and asked what flavors were gluten free. Tutti i gusti. All of them? Si, tutti. Then the ragazza behind the counter who was helping me asks if I want a cone or a cup. Coppa, ovviamente sono Celiaca. But the cones are gluten free, and egg and (mostly) dairy free as well, she replies. I don’t know what the look was on my face, utter dumbfoundedness I assume. But the ragazza said it simply, Sei scioccata. Yes. Shocked. To say the very least. And I hadn’t even tried one of the marvelous flavors yet.

You see, these gelato flavors aren’t normal and they aren’t afraid to express themselves. They are proud to be conservative, gluten, preservative, egg (most of them), and dairy (1/3 of them) free. They’re natural like a colony of nudists who don’t have anything to hide. They are the rebels and the revolutionists of gelato. They are the ones who stand up for their rights and are proud to just be themselves. Flirty, dirty, seductive, bubbly, eccentric, egotistical, outgoing, juicy, raw, rich and confident, curvy and just plain sweet as can be. Celery Lime, Poppyseed, Citrus Almond, Panacea (mint, almond and ginseng, my absolute favorite), Coconut Rum, Greek Figs, Gorgonzola and Pear, Plum, Chestnut, Apricot with Chocolate granules, Tobacco Chocolate, Salted Chocolate, White Chocolate with Pine Nuts, Blueberry, Lavender even the normal flavors like Lemon and Melon and Strawberry have a twist. Don’t be afraid though, they’re really just tame softies and who will just soak on your tongue, relaxing and invigorating the senses.

Maybe I’m biased. Maybe I’m a gelatist. But after going to La Fata Morgana, I’m tolerant no more of the normal gelateria with their circus colors, and the sugary, buttery overwhelmingness that leaves me feeling sick and tired. Luckily for me and the other thousands (no millions!) of Romans and tourists, there is not only one La Fata Morgana but 3. One is a 5 minute bike ride from my house (in North East Rome nearby Villa Ada), the other a 15 minute walk from my work (in the Vatican area) and the 3rd sister is just a lick away from the largest flea market in Rome and the train that can take you to the beach, Ostia. So no matter where you are in Rome, La Fata Morgana is waiting to entice you, grace you, inspire you, love you, and kiss you.

Locations Precisely:
Via Ostiense 36
Via Lago di Lesina 9/11
Via G. Bettolo 7
On the website they even include recipes to make gluten free gelato at home for those inspired!

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