Overwhelmed by the taste of Italian ice cream? Find out where it comes from and what makes it so different from regular ice cream.
The origins of Italian ice cream are obscure. Amongst the many stories that surface the one of Marco Polo bringing back ice cream from his adventures to China is a formidable one. He is also credited with introducing pasta to the country but there are certain ambiguities to the trustworthiness of these stories. The first thing to question is whether China had any ice cream at all during those times. Although it is generally assumed that China and ancient Persia were amongst the first nations to develop a dessert item made from fruits in the form of shaved ice or snow. The fact of the matter is that this discovery could have taken place simultaneously in many cultures.
The first known ice cream makers do seem to be originating from China. The use of rock salt to increase the hardness of the ice cream was a practice popular in the country. An important thing to remember is that the ancient ice creams were more in the form of sorbets because they did not incorporate the use of cream or milk in the making. Although the role of Marco Polo in introducing ice cream to the Italians is unclear one thing that can be said for sure is that the Italians had a huge role to play in introducing the rest of Europe to various ice cream based desserts.
Italian Versions of Ice Cream
All the Italian versions of ice cream were much less like the ice creams that we find today and were more like ice with flavors. It was possibly the Arabs who introduced ice cream to the Italians as they also brought sugarcane. The Arabs use of mountain snow and fruit juice to make sharbat resulted in the discovery of the sorbet as it is known worldwide and sorbetto in Italy. The slush like Granita is another item stemming from the Arab cultures and is quite close to the original sharbat drink of the Arabs.
It was not before the addition of milk to the Italian ice that the first real form of ice cream was developed in Italy. The credit for this introduction goes to the Neapolitans of the 18th century. The introduction of milk led to the patronizing of ice cream but Italy is held responsible for the flavor explosion that the world witnessed by the name of Gelato.
Gelato is known to be much richer in the taste of its flavor coming across. This is largely due to the use of milk and sometimes skimmed milk that makes the ice cream low in fat content. This way the flavor of the ice cream becomes much stronger. Italian Gelato ice cream is also much denser than regular ice cream due to the fact that it has much less air whipped into it. Even the colors of the Italian Ice cream come across as extremely vibrant and make the dessert a treat for the eye as well as the stomach.