Even though its turning winter time in Michigan right now and I definitely saw snowflakes yesterday, I am still currently craving gelato – the extremely tasty Italian version of ice cream.
I used to work at a gelateria – a shop that sells gelato – and I got accustomed to constant access to free gelato. It was the coolest job, at first: I worked with my three best friends serving (and sampling) gelato, espresso, and other delightful Italian baked goods. Then we realized the bosses were greedy and stupid, I devolved into hiding sprinkles in inaccessible places throughout the shop, and we all quit at the beginning of the summer. We’ve never looked back, except when we go back on someone’s birthday when there is free gelato to be acquired, and then we always end up missing the stupid place. Lots of funny stories and awesome desserts were had. But damnit, most of all, I miss eating gelato everyday.
Of course this American made gelato, though good, was no match for the real deal I had in Italy. Authentic Italian gelato is unbeatable, I believe partly because the dessert is all Italian – gelato comes from the Latin word gelatus, meaning frozen, and some of the earliest frozen desserts were served in in the Roman empire. Romans, and Egyptians, would often bring back ice and snow from mountains to make frozen treats for the wealthier citizens. But the first official batch of “ice cream” isn’t thought to have originated until much later, in the 16th century. Bernardo Buontalenti is credited with first making ice cream for the Medici Family in Florence, and obviously it has been a popular treat ever since.
When I worked at the gelateria, a lot of people – a lot – would always ask what made gelato different than regular, American ice cream. So I consider myself to be a bit of a pro at the following explanation:
- Gelato is served at a warmer temperature than ice cream: Ice cream is served cold enough to give one a severe case of “brain freeze”, something that gelato doesn’t do because it is warmer – this also means that gelato doesn’t freeze your taste buds like ice cream can do, meaning you actually get to taste more of the gelato flavor.
- Gelato is more dense than ice cream: Ice cream tends to be about 25-35% air as a result of the churning process, whereas gelato is only about 10%. This is not necessarily a bad thing because I love fluffy ice cream, however more air does mean less flavor.
- Compared to ice cream, gelato is made with more sugar and less fat: This is great because not only is it a proven fact that sugar makes everything taste better, but fat actually makes you taste less of it. Fat molecules can coat your taste-buds and dilute the gelato flavor, so less of it means you taste more of the gelato. Plus, gelato being lower fat also means you don’t feel as bad about eating way more of it.
So, conclusion: gelato is a tasty tasty frozen treat that everyone should try, no matter the time of year. My recommendation is nocciola or hazelnut, a classic Italian flavor that shouldn’t be missed!
What’s Coming Soon:
Just another typical archeology post … or is it?