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As if we needed another excuse to eat dessert, July is National Ice Cream Month. While you’re busy noshing on your go-to flavor, have a taste of some popular frozen treats from around the world with these 7 cool, unexpected ice creams.
Indian kulfi

Indian kulfi

India: For many of us, our knowledge of Indian desserts stops with the yogurt at the end of the local Indian buffet. But kulfi, a.k.a. Indian ice cream, is cold comfort worth experiencing. It starts with boiled milk and sugar, accented by rich spices like cardamon, almond and pistachios. Once frozen, the result is a creamy, slightly chewy texture that’s served in a dish or as a kulfi pop. Ask for it at Indian grocery stores or in big-city Indian restaurants.

Related: These are the five best margaritas in the country.

Ecuador: The word artisanal gets tossed around a lot these days, but Ecuador’s helado de paila, or kettle ice cream, is the real deal. As the legend goes, this hand-churned delicacy has its roots in the northern town of Ibarra, where indigenous people combined snow from a nearby volcano with fruit juices and cane sugar in a bronze pan. These days, the dessert is common in many urban ice cream shops and tourist attractions, where you can watch artisans hand-make your dessert in a copper kettle.

Mexican paletas

Mexican paletas

Mexico: Paletas come in two varieties: refreshing water- and juice-based, and creamy milk-based. Both types of Mexican ice pops are known for their bright colors and everything-but-the-kitchen-sink ingredient combinations like mango-chile and cucumber-lime, usually with chunks of fruit suspended throughout. Too delicious to remain south of the border, paletas are now widely available in Los Angeles and other large U.S. cities.

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Greece: Olive oil in savory foods is a no-brainer. But olive oil ice cream may be Greek to you. Kalamata olives and honey join forces with the usual ice cream ingredients for a sweet treat with an extra-velvety texture.

Japanese Green Tea ice cream.700

Japan: In the Land of the Rising Sun, flavors like vanilla and green tea are common in most ice cream shops. But Japan is better known for the novelty flavors available at some specialty stores. Flavors like eel, squid ink, jellyfish, and soy sauce tempt adventurous eaters. Some contain the flavoring, whileothers are dotted with bits of the actual food.

Italian Gelato

Italian Gelato

Italy: Gelato is Italian for “frozen,” and one taste of this treat will be amore at first bite. The base ingredients are similar, so Americans sometimes think of gelato as a fancy word for ice cream. But its Italian counterpart uses more milk, less cream and fewer (or no) eggs; it’s also churned more slowly than ice cream and stored at a slightly higher temperature. The result is a silkier, creamier texture that contains less fat, less air and more flavor. Now, how do you say “winning” in Italian?


Philippines: The name sorbetes a.k.a. Filipino “dirty ice cream,” is rather misleading. For starters, it’s made from a base of coconut milk and cassava, so right off the bat it’s distinct from the similarly named sorbet. Secondly, there’s nothing dirty about this frozen dessert, which earned its unappetizing nickname because it’s commonly peddled on street carts. The creamy treat comes in flavors like mango, ube (purple yam) and even cheese; it’s served in a cone or on a bun.

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Tagged: Europe, Mexico, Uncategorized

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Dalia Colon

Dalia Colon

Dalia is a multimedia journalist in Tampa and the Smart Travel Insider for VISIT FLORIDA. Follow her on Twitter @daliacolon.

One thought on “7 cool, unexpected ice creams around the world”

  1. I am fond of icecream, gelato and sherbet. But the “sorbetes” which considered a sweet delicacy here in the Philipines, or what they call “dirty icecream” is unique in taste since its base is made from coconut milk and cassava. I especially like the mango flavor. A simple treat this summer.

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