A confection by any other name …

Potremmo andare a prenderci un gelato
We could take a drive, get some ice-cream.

I looked up the word gelato on my handy smart phone translation software and this is the first example it gives. Although gelato is a word every English speaker will understand, it seems that is just means ice-cream. Now, what I think about when I consider ice-cream in my English speaking world is a plastic tub that I am sometimes tempted to buy on a trip to the supermarket. It depends on how much I am prepared to spend as to the quality of the contents. Even at it’s very best this ice-cream is not the same as gelato.

If I take my ice-cream tub out of the freezer to enjoy an after-dinner sweet treat I can be thoroughly discouraged by the amount of effort it takes to get the stuff out of the tub. Depending on how well my freezer is doing its job, the ice-cream can be a solid frozen lump which takes a hot spoon, determination and time to serve. Any self respecting gelato would never do that. Even at Grom, where the gelato is hidden from view in steel containers down in a freezer unit, the server only has to do a couple of passes over the stuff to get it out and into the cone or cup ready to be enjoyed. Gelato is always soft.

Like gelato, ice-cream can also be had in a waffle cone. It doesn’t take very long for it to start to melt and to dribble down the side of the cone in a wet, sticky stream. Gelato, on the other hand, takes much longer to begin to melt and seems to go through  a series of transformations which makes it glisten and shine. I will admit that I don’t usually allow enough time for it to get beyond the jewel like stage before devouring the whole serving. I have watched it, though, in the windows of the cafes and worried as the sun shines on it that it will puddle like ice-cream. It never does. It just glints and beckons to be rescued.

This comes to another thing that I have recently read about choosing where to buy your treat. The article hints that you should avoid buying from places where the gelato is heaped like icebergs above the containers. The writer didn’t say why so I have been looking for a clue. Some of my particular favourite places like Venchi, Grom, Gelateria de’ Neri and Festival of Gelato all seem to keep the level at or just slightly above the rim of the containers. It could be that it means the gelato is sure to be fresh or that it is all at a consistent temperature but that is just guessing.

The list above are not meant to be recommendations but they do indicate a place to start your own research. A Google search for gelato in Florence will give lists of other people’s opinions. All I can say is that I am glad Florence is reasonably flat so a good walk can be had to make you feel a little better about choosing the most flavours for your euro while doing the study of why gelato is certainly not the same as ice-cream.

Categories: Food and drink, Language | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “A confection by any other name …

  1. Gelateria Cillo on via dei Neri is a little jewel. The gelato is made on site and there is a middling range to choose from. For 3 euro you can get waffle cone with 2 very generous scoops. The ciocolato fondente is rich and sticky and to-die-for, teamed with arancia rossa makes a wonderful treat. I shied away from the azzura, not being able to apply imagine what blue gelato should taste like.
    Gelateria Cillo


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