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Romantic Gelato…

Posted in Caro Diario.(dear diary..), cucina, entertaining, Features, history of foods, La Dolce Vita, recipes, and Travel & customs


copyright 2009, Maria Liberati, The Basic Art of Italian Cooking

Editor-Kate Hollinger

What’s richer, softer and more luscious than ice cream, and comes in any flavor you can imagine? Gelato of course! This centuries-old classic has been credited to many countries and continents, but credit definitely should be given to Italy. While origins of gelato can be traced to Marco Polo in China and various people in Arabia, the truest form can be traced back to 16th century Italia.


Gelato, Italian for “frozen”, can truly be attributed to the ingenuity of Bernardo Buontalenti, an Italian architect who was hired by the Medici family in 1565 to cater and plan events and banquets. He unleashed his fabulous “frozen desserts” which eventually became famous throughout the whole country. Initially this mixture of frozen sweet milk with egg yolks and other flavorings was a pretty exclusive treat, known as the “rich man’s dessert”. Because of the trouble that was gone through to make the unique treat, few could have it at first.


Snow was collected during the winter months and then stored in cold places until it was ready to be turned into gelato. Rich families actually had their own ice basements or wells where they stored ice up to 30 meters deep. These intensive harvesting methods made gelato consumption a lavish luxury in the 16th century. The ice concoction primarily included flavors of fruit, chocolate, or nut. Gelato from Northern Italy included milk, and tasted like a rich dense combination of ice and creamy flavoring. In Southern Italy, however, there was only water and no milk, and therefore was a lighter, healthier version known as sorbetto. The southern rendition is lower fat but higher in sugar content due to the more intense flavorings that make up for the lack of dairy product.


Since the 16th century invention of gelato in this European country, different variations have been formed from this frozen treat. Argentina boasts helado and France offers la glace, which was introduced by Catherine de Medici of Italy. Ice cream is consumed in bulk in the United States, although this is a less dense, less rich version of gelato because there is more air in it.


Today, gelato still remains ever-so-popular in Italy. It is a tradition as well as an art form, passed down from one family member to the next. Gelaterie, the cafes where this gelato is made, sold, and enjoyed, are sprinkled all over Italy and serve a wide array of delightful flavors and often served with wafers or biscuits, or in cones. Other variations can be found in each gelateria.

And to explain to you in words the delight that is gelato is so impossible.. you must experience an artisan gelato yourself..if only once it is worth every taste…

A great idea for San Valentino (Saint Valentine’s Day).. for gelato lovers.

Place Champagne or Spumanti in an elegant glass and add a scoop formed into a small ball into the champgne or spumanti…

or in a fluted glass and layer two different flavors of gelato, top with strawberry halves and dried orange peel with shaved dark chocolate…

If you have a favorite gelato bar in Italy..please let us know. I have a few that I love..Giolitti in Rome..not only for the gelato but for the elegant feel of this coffee bar that makes their own artisan gelato…I have some others but would love t ohear from everyone about their favorite gelateria in Italy or if you have found someone that makes a great gelato in the US or anywhere else in the tell….

 Meet me  at the Whole Foods Market in Marlton, NJ at 6 PM. I will be signing copies of my bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking and  I will be doing a cooking class after. Pairing pastas with their matching sauces-we will cook 4 pasta dishes. recipes are from the cooking school in Italy, registration is limited. Call Whole Foods and register at 856-697-7191 or email

Join me at The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm cooking school in Italy on September 26th to October 3rd at the villa and castle in  the hills of Umbria.. Stay at the villa or the castello di Sismano for 7 days. Experience Italy, with 4 cooking classes at the villa, tours to local vineyards and olive oil mills, sights and tastes of Italy and enjoying La Dolce Vita at the villa and castle… All included, 4 cooking classes included and transportation from Rome Fiumicino airport to the villa and back.. La Dolce Vita is included at no extra charge!! See you then.  This event gets sold out quickly and is limited to12 participants only.For reservations and more info email us at

For more great recipes get your copy of The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at



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