Pizza and pasta, step aside; Italy’s most taste bud friendly offering has got to be the gelato. You may be thinking that you’ve tasted all there is when it comes to ice cream, but let me tell you that the stuff they sell at the corner ice cream shop does not even begin to compare to the scrumptious delicacies prepared in the Italian gelaterie.
What makes it different?
While the basic ingredients like milk and eggs are the same in both gelato and ice cream, gelato offers about twice the sugar than regular ice cream; which means twice the sweetness and a richer flavor. Gelato also uses more milk and less cream so the fat content is much lower.
The major difference is in how the two are prepared. Ice cream is frozen on a continuous assembly line freezer while gelato is frozen very quickly in small batches. Ice cream is also churned during the freezing process which adds air to the mixture. Because gelato has no air added to it, the product is much denser and the flavor is fantastically intense; an absolute treat to the palate.
What flavors can I expect?
Most gelaterie in Italy offer the same basic flavors; the fruity flavors such as lemon, strawberry, or melon, and the more creamy flavors like coffee, hazelnut, and of course; chocolate.
In the gelaterie
While searching for the perfect gelaterie in Italy, make sure you look for signs that say “Nostra Produzione” or “Produzione Propria,” these indicate that the products are made with homemade ingredients and will ensure a much better taste and quality in your gelato.
When you order, you order by the scoop, or “gusto.” You can also choose whether you want your gelato in a cone (“cono”), or a cup (“coppa”). For a little added flair and flavor, you have the option of adding “panna,” whipped cream, to your treat.
A true Italian treat
Because gelato is so much more rich and creamy than regular ice cream, it also melts much quicker. If it’s exceptionally hot outside, you may want to find a gelaterie with tables to sit at while you eat. Otherwise, in true Italian style, take your gelato to go and enjoy it while you stroll the streets, take in the sights, and scope out the next gelaterie.