Traveler's Test

Icy delights: Gelato vs Ice-cream

Icy delights: Gelato vs Ice-cream

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Strolling around the narrow Italian streets, it`s hard to ignore the tempting gelato scoops, summoning you through the glass windows of local gelaterias.

Let me admit something: I almost cried out of joy the first time I tried Italian gelato. Rich and creamy, gelato’s intense flavor tingles the senses and brightens even the gloomiest day.

Wonder how the Italian frozen delight came to life? Let`s find out:


Tracing gelato`s origins

It was more than 12,000 years ago when slave runners in Mesopotamia collected ice and snow to serve cold drinks at religious ceremonies and royal celebrations.

In the 11-th century, the Arabs created the predecessor of the sorbets we know today. A sweet combination of sugary syrup, fruit juices, and snow, the Arab frozen dessert was flavored with exotic spices and flowers. Unsurprisingly, it became widely popular in Sicily under Arab rule.

Some historians argue that the gelato we know today could be traced to the Italian Renaissance in Florence. Back then, the alchemist Cosimo Ruggieri supposedly came up with the first gelato flavor at the Medici court.

Others refer to the designer and architect Bernardo Buontaleni whose name has been associated with the invention of the egg cream gelato (gelato alla crema d’uovo). The legend says that Buontaleni mixed sugar, egg, honey, and a pinch of salt to produce a tasty cold cream, spiced with orange and bergamot. He served the treat to the King of Spain, who happened to be visiting the Medici family at the time.


Gelato vs Ice-cream

The word gelato means frozen in Italian, but the term is not always interchangeable with ice-cream (which usually refers to the American-style one).

Curious to find out what`s the difference? Let`s dive in:

It boils down to three main factors: fat, air, and the temperature of serving, as the Huffington Post explains:

  • Ice-cream has more fat than gelato. Generally, gelato makers use more milk than cream and fewer egg yolks (in case they use any).
  • Gelato has less air (the latter is incorporated in the frozen dessert through churning) Gelato is being churned at a slower pace than ice-cream. This makes ice-cream a little fluffier, whereas gelato remains denser in texture.
  • The temperature of serving is important too: ice-cream is best served at about 10ºF (about 12ºC). By contrast, gelato is served at a much warmer temperature (+15 degrees) to maintain its beloved texture.

ice-cream challenge

Just a scoop of frozen pleasure

Milky or creamy, fluffy or dense, it`s still delicious!

And we`re here to enjoy life, right?

Here`s a tasty challenge for you: try at least 3 different types of gelato (preferably in Italy) and 3 types of American ice-cream. Rank them on a scale of 1 to 10 and share the results in the comments down below.