Odd Pair: Ice Cream, Freshly Ground Coffee, and Wine

Look into any commercial Italian-English dictionary and you'll find the standard however incomplete translation of the Italian verb sgroppare (sgrohp-PAH-reh): to buck, as in a horse bucks off his rider. Look a little deeper (as in the case of this 1831 English-Italian dictionary entry by one of the great Anglo-Italian literary figures of that era Giuseppe Baretti), and you'll find that sgroppare also means to untie a rope or undo a knot (from the Italian groppo or knot, akin to the English crop, but that's another story).

When you travel to northeastern Italy (Friuli and the Veneto, in particular), you'll find that folks will end a heavy meal with a sgroppino (sgrohp-PEE-noh), a noun denoting the untying of a knot, from the verb sgroppare. In other words, an after-dinner digestive (digestif in French, digestivo in Italian) that will -- ahem -- unfasten the knot in your digestive track.

In Italy the sgroppino is served during cold months when heavier meals are more typically prepared and consumed. The one pictured to the right was served to me a few years ago along Italy's border with Slovenia at the famous Osteria La Subida.

But back here in Texas, during the hot summer months, we like to sit out on our patio after dinner and sip our sgroppino slowly when we visit with the kinfolk.

It's super easy to make: just blend desired amounts of your favorite flavor of sherbet (lemon is the traditional flavor), Prosecco, and a splash of vodka (there are infinite combinations and possibilities although this is the classic version). And for a touch of color and a gently bitter aromatic note, top with a sprinkle of freshly ground coffee (as in the photo).

We think of it as an Italian daiquiri. What could be more East Texas than that?

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