Traditional Italian cuisine emblems: Gelato

Ice-cream but a very special one

Traditional Italian cuisine is varied and delicious which makes it famous worldwide. However, speaking about culinary emblems of Italy, Gelato cannot be missed.

Gelato is not just the Italian word for ice-cream. It is a type of ice-cream, produced in a special way, the result being original and typical product of the traditional Italian cuisine.

Gelato recipes are known by chefs worldwide, of course, and even in Italy some people experiment with its taste. There are hundreds of varieties, including sour and sweet, tuna fish, coca-cola, meat, etc. flavoured. Traditional Italian cuisine, naturally, still stakes on the classical tastes – cream, chocolate, vanilla, fruits.

One of the differences in Gelato preparation is the lower fat content. According to the original recipe of the traditional Italian cuisine, it shouldn’t be more than 4% because Gelato is made mainly of milk.

The other ice-cream sold in shops contains more than 10% fat because it’s made of cream and eggs, while there are hardly any yolks in Gelato. The traditional Italian recipe does not include artificial aromas or sweeteners.

There are other differences, as well. Ice-cream is stirred quickly and the air that enters the mixture makes it rise. Ice-cream increases its volume, becoming “fleecy” and light even after adding water to increase its mass artificially. Gelato mixture in traditional Italian cuisine is stirred slowly and becomes thick and dense.

In the effort to keep their tradition, the Italians created a unique institution – culinary academy for ice-cream. Gelato University in Bologna teaches thousands of chefs from the whole world to prepare home-made Gelato following the traditional Italian recipe.

Bulgarian connoisseurs can try home-made ice-cream prepared by the authentic Italian recipe in “Leonardo” Italian restaurant in Bansko. The entire menu is composed of original Italian recipes.

Curious facts: Gelato is more important than bread and wine

The prototype of ice-cream was “invented” by the Chinese long before the New Era – emperors were served snow and ice with honey, fruits, fruit juices, wine.

However, the Italians also have their traditions in the respect, beginning in the first century of the New Era. The emperor Neron liked cold deserts and had “assigned” special slaves to deliver mountain ice. There were special underground premises where they stored it.

Centuries later cold drinks with fruits, jams, sweet wine became popular in Sicily. There was enough material in Etna volcano. There are many interesting comments registered concerning the Sicilians in this respect.

The Scottish noble Patrick Bredon visited Sicily in 1770. He wrote that Sicilians suffered more from the lack of snow than from scarce crops of wheat or wine.

Almost two centuries earlier doctor Pisanelli from Bologna expressed himself in a more moderate way – according to him, ice was the third most important thing for the Sicilian peasants, after bread and wine.

Other travellers also left notes which show that in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries the ice deserts used to be a mass product in Sicily, sold at reasonable price and were, therefore, consumed by members of all social strata every summer day.

There is one name that stands out in the history of Italian ice-cream, Guiseppe Ruggeri who was… a chicken seller. In the 15th century he won a competition for ice deserts organized by the Florentine court. That’s how he became part of the entourage of Caterina di Medici as the responsible for the preparation of ice deserts, and his recipes were kept secret.

Accumulating experience and secret recipes, Gelato became famous in 1686 when the Sicilian Procopio Coltelli opened the first cafeteria for fruit ice-cream in Paris, after repairing his grandfather’s ice-cream machine. He became very famous and received a royal patent from Louis XIV.

Today Italy is the Queen of the ice-cream because of its recipes.