It doesn’t matter how old you are, when you hold that giant cone or cup of ice cream in your hand, it’s only natural that your face lights up with an ear-to-ear smile…and according to science there is a reason for that.
Thanks to its high concentration of sugars, gelato is a real mood booster. It increases the production of serotonin – one of the “happiness hormones”- and it can also reduce stress levels thanks to L-tryptophan, an amino acid naturally contained in milk. Since this amino acid is not produced by the human body, it must be ingested and according to scientists, eating a lot of ice cream is one way to increase your daily intake!
IF IT’S GOOD… ITALIANS USUALLY HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT
In general, when irresistible foods are involved, Italians are most likely the driving force behind them! The same is true for ice cream, while its exact origin is unknown, its popularity and evolution over time is largely due to Italy’s ceaseless dedication to creating culinary masterpieces.
The first known ice cream prototype was created by the ancient Romans who ate ice with fruit, milk and honey. Something similar to the ice cream we know today didn’t appear until the 16th century. At this time, a public competition to find the most original recipe was held in Florence, Italy at the De’ Medici court. The winner was a poulterer named Ruggeri: his “ghiaccio all’acqua inzuccherata e profumata” (or ice with sugared and perfumed water – similar to today’s sorbet) not only won him the competition but also a position as Caterina De’ Medici’s personal pastry chef.
Soon after, the famous Italian artist and architect Bernardo Buontalenti created a creamy custard using milk, honey and egg yolk — this flavor was so popular that it is still known throughout Italy as “Bountalenti”. Gelato was finally born and evolved over the centuries into the tasty treat we enjoy today.
Like all good things, gelato did not remain an Italian secret forever. It was introduced to the Americas in the early 1800s by Giovanni Bosio, who opened up the first “gelateria” in New York. Later on in 1903, another Italian innovator, Italo Marchiony, invented the ice cream cone and patented the first cone machine — creating a match made in ice cream heaven.
BUT WAIT; IS IT ICE CREAM OR GELATO?
Gelato is not just an Italian word for ice cream; there are in fact some substantial differences be- tween the two. Gelato has a lower fat content than ice cream and it’s also softer, denser and generally considered more flavourful because it is churned at a slower rate [http://goo.gl/sAE1rU]
THE FLAVOR OF ORIGINALITY
There are plenty of gelato flavours: from traditional options like chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, to the more original flavours like olive oil. Yes, that’s right…there is such a thing as olive oil gelato and it is delicious.
If you don’t believe it, there is only one way to find out! Try this recipe for Extra Virgin Olive Oil gelato courtesy of Vetulio Bondi, a master gelato artisan from Florence, Italy and head of the association of Florentine Artisan Gelaterias (Gelatieri Artigiani Fiorentini).
EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL GELATO
- 1 lt. (41⁄2 cups) of milk
- 200 gr (1 cup) of granulated sugar
- 120 gr (approx. 2/3 cups) of dextrose
- 15 gr (2 tbsp.) of powdered skimmed milk
- 3 grams / a pinch of Carob flour
- 110 ml (1/2 cup) of Extra Virgin Olive Oil ( preferably Filippo Berio Extra Virgin)
In a small saucepan, heat the milk over low heat and add the sugar, dextrose, powdered milk and carob flour. Stir until well blended.
Add the Extra Virgin Olive Oil, then pour the mix into a blender and blend for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to an ice cream churn and proceed -as directed- until the ice cream is done.
These simple ingredients, together with the natural thickening power of carob flour, will generate a soft and elastic texture that is easily obtained with a professional ice cream churn.
To serve, top the gelato with sea salt, balsamic vinegar and even an extra drizzle of olive oil to further accentuate the contrasting flavours.
Additionally, this gelato is also a great garnish for savoury pies and casseroles, or even as a refreshing vegetable dip. Simply cut the carrots, fennel, radishes and celery into sticks and dip them right into the Extra Virgin Olive Oil gelato just like the classic Italian “Pinzimonio” recipe!