Waffles? Whipped cream? Jam? …Guf?! Here’s a breakdown of the options so you can order your next frosty treat with ease.
Before living in Denmark, the hardest part about ordering an ice cream cone was deciding which flavours to get. But here, that’s just the beginning. I now know to expect an onslaught of additional questions after the flavour choice has been made. This is how it goes:
1. Vaffel or Bæger?
Instead of calling the hollow, cylindrical object that will hold your scoops a kop (cup) or a skål (bowl), in Danish it’s called a bæger (yet another way of saying ‘cup’). You’ll need to employ this word to have any chance of the person behind the counter understanding you. The standard alternative to the bæger is the vaffel (waffle). But unless you see signs of flat, thick Belgian waffles being made in the back, chances are that vaffel refers to a crispy, thin waffle rolled into a cone, ready to contain your scoops.
This is the foundational choice upon which the rest of your ice cream tower will be built. At this point, you’ll order kugle (balls, or scoops) of ice cream, noting how many and which flavours you want. This is standard practice – you don’t need some food writer’s help with this. But here are the questions that will come next, and you best be prepared:
Do you want the ‘old days’ on top of your ice cream? While that’s what gammeldags means literally, in the ice cream context, the question is: Do you want whipped cream and jam on top? Proceed accordingly.
Sure, this looks like a made-up word, but it’s a very real thing. Guf is a gooey marshmallow fluff made by whipping egg whites with powdered sugar. It’s basically what you would get if you burrowed out the inside of a flødebolle and plopped it on your ice cream. You may find pink guf on the menu, which likely means it’s strawberry-flavoured.
If you like marshmallow fluff, but prefer it in a self-contained shell, you may want to opt for a flødebolle (chocolate-coated meringue puff). Doing so will mean that a fist-sized treat, that could easily be a dessert all by itself, will be shoved into the mass of ice cream and toppings – the crown atop a teetering structure that, thankfully, needs only to remain vertical for ten minutes, tops.
It has recently come to my attention that it’s possible to order a cone with everything: whipped cream, jam, and a flødebolle (I don’t believe it includes guf – thank goodness, because that would have been one step too far). At my favourite ice cream spot in Tivoli, they call this creation the Amerikaner (American).
I couldn’t help but chuckle, because the vast majority of folks living in the U.S. have no idea what a flødebolle is, and they have never finished their sundae with a spoonful of jam. Sure, the name probably refers to my country’s reputation for indulgence. But can I call this mile-high cone American in good conscious? No, I cannot. This is a Danish delicacy all the way.
This article is published in The International, a monthly free newspaper created by and for expats living in Denmark. My column features stories about Danish foods and their global histories, as well as tips for home-cooking in your expat kitchen.