Even Better than Ice Cream!
Blasphemy! How could it be? There’s nothing better than ice cream. Seriously.
I used to say that there are 2 things that I will never say no to: ice cream and chocolate.
At least that’s what I thought up until 2006.
Now you can add to that list a third item, one which is even better than ice cream! That’s gelato.
Gelato is a frozen dessert that dates back to Ancient Rome and Egypt and was made from snow brought down from the mountains and preserved underground. Gelato is most commonly associated with being an Italian form of ice cream and is made from milk, sugar, cream, fruit and/or nut purees and then may have chocolate flakes, nuts, cookies, small confections or biscuits added and mixed in after the gelato is frozen. Most people consider gelato to be creamier and more flavorful than its cousin, ice cream. Gelato differs from ice cream in that it has a lower butterfat content and a higher sugar content, it is churned during the freezing process causing more air to incorporate into the mix which produces a denser product, smoother texture and more intense flavor. This also means that unlike ice cream, gelato can only be stored for a few days and must be made in much smaller batches than ice cream that can be massed produced and frozen for months.
Generally when ice cream lovers try gelato for the first time, they will proclaim that gelato is much better than ice cream. And considering the fact that you can add all sorts of fruit and nut purees and then mix in all sorts of fresh fruits and nuts and any other combination of toppings, everyone can always seem to find something they like. The flavors of gelato that are produced are much more flavorful and plentiful than ice cream you find in the states.
In 2006 I got my first taste of gelato when I went to the Mediterranean on a cruise. And I was in love from the very first bite! First off, I have an unnatural obsession for bananas. It’s almost impossible, unless you got to a speciality ice cream shop, to find banana-flavored ice cream. But in the Mediterranean, banana-flavored gelato is plentiful and even popular. It was love at first sight for me. Forget tasting it, just seeing that they had it was enough for me! Secondly, I love chocolate chip ice cream here in the States. In Europe, their version of chocolate chip is known as stracciatella gelato, which is basically a gelato with a vanilla base with chocolate shavings added. Therefore, there’s more thin chocolate bits and a creamier flavor than the chunky chocolate chip you find here. It was love times two! Give me gelato, and only gelato to eat, and I’d be a happy camper! A cup of banana gelato a cup of stracciatella gelato and I’m set! I remember on that trip trying to eat as much gelato as possible since it’s hard to find here in the States. I had gelato all over Italy in Rome and in Florence. I bought cups of gelato in Greece in Athens and on the island of Santorini. I even had gelato in the south of France in Villefranche on the Cote d’Azur.
When I came home from that trip, I started having gelato withdrawals. Luckily, we still have ice cream. But really, once you’ve had gelato, ice cream just can’t compare. In 2009, when I knew we were going back to the Mediterranean for another cruise, I made a promise to myself that I’d have myself some gelato every single day we were in Europe because who knew when I’d get another opportunity to have some more.
I had gelato in Milan, in Verona, in Venice, in Rome, in Santorini, in Mykonos, in Rhodes, in Athens, in Dubrovnik… well, you get the picture. Let’s just say I had a ton of gelato. And there was gelato everywhere. They even were clever enough, since gelato isn’t frozen the way ice cream is, to shape their gelato into cute little animals when they put them in their storefront display cases.
Really, who can say no to gelato when you have flavors like tiramisu, coco (coconut), limone (lemon), pistacchio, arancia (orange), melone (cantoloupe), ciocco (chocolate), cappuccino, mango, pesca (peach), ananas (pineapple), mela verde (green apple), mandorla (almond), caffe (coffee), fragola (strawberry), lampone (raspberry), fico (fig), pera (pera) and so many other combinations.
If you’re ever in Europe and you find yourself at a gelatteria (Italian for a gelato shop), please do yourself a favor, and get yourself some gelato. Don’t walk past the store, don’t worry about the calories, just got into the store and order a cup, you’ll thank me later.