Florence ‘Iced Cream’

Florence ‘Iced Cream’

For Italians, pausing to enjoy a scoop of intensely flavored, velvety gelato is a favorite pastime that requires no special occasion.

For Italians, pausing to enjoy a scoop of intensely flavored, velvety gelato is a favorite pastime that requires no special occasion.

It’s an excuse to take an afternoon stroll with friends and visit at the neighborhood ice cream parlor, where the owner uses age-old technique to handcraft the world best "gelato" the Italian word for ice cream, derived from the Latin word "gelātus." (meaning frozen).

Authentic Italian gelato is also much better then ice cream, it’s made with more milk then cream and frozen especially slowly using a process called “mantecazione”. The texture is ultra-light and creamy but lower in fat then regular ice cream. Gelato’s flavor is helped by the fact that it has less air whipped into than Ice Cream, making it much denser and all the flavours really shine through too. Here's a tip for finding a good gelato shop - look at the pistachio ice cream. If the color looks like a very fake green, it's probably not a good place to go. The ancestor of the modern Italian gelato is the sorbet, the word was borrowed into Italian from Turkish Sherbet: a sweet lemonade. It is likely that these desserts were introduced to Southern Italy by the Arabs, who also brought sugarcane, and in Palermo they grew 400 different types of flowers to flavor their sorbets. Another account says that was the Roman Emperor Nero the first one who served the sorbet during his endless banquets, where the snow was mixed with honey and wine.

The ice was taken from ice-houses where the shovelers worked in the winter filling it with the snow that dad fallen and pressing it down. One of this ice-houses was designed by Buontalenti and it was described by Michel de Montaigne, who saw it at the Medici Villa of Pratolino during one of his trip to Italy. Of course this was a dessert enjoyed by the wealthy because of the required preparation time and the amount of ice that was needed.

The first marriage of a Medici with French royalty, that of Catherine in 1533, consolidated the influence of Florentine cooking in France. It was probably Catherine‘s cook Ruggeri who introduced to France the sorbets already in use at the Medici court and, also introducing eggs and dairy in the original recipe (the ’iced-cream’!) and, by the end of the 17th Century, sorbet was served in the streets of Paris by another Italian, the Sicilian immigrant Procopio Cutò. He invented the first ice-cream churn and diffused the fashion of the sorbet among the Parisian intellectuals in his ‘Café Procope’, still today a real icon of Parisian intellectual life.

From Paris the gelato fashion spread to England and the rest of Europe. Ice cream came to the U.S. in the late 18th Century, and there too it was served to the upper classes, it could be found in the menus of state dinners of noble figures such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. In 1770, the Genoese Giovanni Bosio opens in New York his first Gelateria.

With modern times and the diffusion of the electricity the pasteurizer, a new, revolutionary machine, was able to guarantee food safety. Each year new technology was developed to provide artisans with solutions that made gelato safer and easier to produce, freeing up the operator’s creativity.

Since 2012, in Bologna, you can also visit the Carpigiani Gelato Museum, the first of its kind to delve into the history, culture, and technology of artisan ice cream.

This not only a mere exhibition area but a centre of cultural excellence, aiming to promote artisan gelato culture throughout the world. The museum displays over 20 original machines along with multimedia presentations, 10,000 historical images and documents, and you can also take part to a tasty gelato lesson, after visiting the museum.

To reach its goal, the museum organizes training labs to teach children and adults gelato science and culture. Guided by instructors from the Carpigiani Gelato University, the students will learn about the history, chemistry, and physics of gelato.

Artisan gelato is a fresh, high-quality food that well represents Italian creativity and excellence throughout the world. The only downside is that once you sample the temptingly tasteful Italian gelato, you won't settle for anything less!

So, don’t absolutely miss a sweet stop for a gelato before or after one of our guided tours of Florence.

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