When delighting in a cone of your favorite gelato flavor, maybe you’ve asked yourself – how was a dessert so flavorful and perfect ever made? We’ve got the answer to your gelato question.
Since the beginning of history people have looked for ways to escape the heat in a convenient and deliciously tasting way. Although nobody is sure who created the first recipe for a cool desert, it’s very similar across three civilizations. Here is a quick overview of the history of gelato.
The Egyptians would serve guest shaved snow and fruit syrups in separate bowls. They stored ice deep underground where they could keep it at the ideal temperature. The first sign of this in Italy was among high-class citizens and Roman Emperors, who established trade routes for ice from the mountains to their residence. Romans would mix snow and honey, but with the fall of the Roman Empire, this tradition became less popular and exclusive to the nobility.
The Chinese were also known for mixing snow with fruit juices, but they would also add milk to their shaved ice. They taught Arab traders their recipe, and the Arabs called it “scherbet”. In the 11th century, when Sicily was under Arab rule, they showed southern Italians to mix sugar, fruit syrups, and snow and sorbetto was created.
From then the first major gelato appearance was in the 16th century when Bernardo Buontalenti from Florence, presented it to the court of Caterina dei Medici. However, we should all thank Francesco Procopio for making gelato available for anyone walking the streets of Europe. He moved from Palermo, Sicily to Paris and opened Cafe Procope. Before gelato was only enjoyed by the rich since it was so expensive to make.
So what makes us go crazy for this delicacy? Gelato is more flavorful than ice cream because there is almost no air in the mix, this also makes for a denser and richer gelato. The other differences are that gelato usually includes fresher ingredients, and uses milk rather than cream, meaning it has less fat.
The history of gelato is an interesting topic. Whether you choose to enjoy a classic flavor, or a modern twist, gelato is an elevated creamy dessert that has provided an escape from the intense heat for many centuries in many different ways, and in the Italian heat it was bound to be an all-time favorite.
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