Mar 31, 2008

Who Invented Ice Cream?

This is a question I asked myself a long time ago. I had hoped to find a simple answer, such as .... so-and-so once did this, that and this and hey presto ice cream was invented! A nice idea but one however that just isn't true. We all have a tendency to think of things coming into existence because of a single person or event but often that's not the case with human history.

I've read many books and news articles and visited many resources on the subject of ice cream over the years and they all concur when it comes to "Who Invented Ice Cream?" Quite simply, ice cream was not invented by any one single person - it has evolved from many, individual developments over many centuries and in different parts of the world. From the first time that man found ice useful for food storage and preservation to how snow and ice became used in foods and beverages.

From an educational point of view, the question of "Who Invented Ice Cream?" is a great one for children - whether you're a teacher in school or a parent trying to find something new to interest your child. Follow the question through with some examples of what's happened over time to give rise to ice cream as they know it today and you will touch on subjects such as:

  • how ice was stored in the icehouses of Mesopatamia over 4,000 years ago

  • how the Chinese made their own type of ice cream with fruit juices as far back as the Song Dynasty (960-1279 BC)

  • how the ancient Greeks liked to flavor snow with fruit and honey over 2,000 years ago

Then you can move on to more recent and famous people who have associations with the history of ice cream - from the Roman Emperor Nero to Marco Polo to Charles I (King of England). After that you can ask them to name a movie star or singer with a love of ice cream - for clues on this go to my ice cream and famous people page.

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Jan 30, 2008

Gelato Ice Cream

Gelato is a word that seems to crop up more and more in everyday life and what we generally mean by it of course is Italian ice cream. The making of gelato, which is believed to have originated in Northern Italy, has a tradition that goes back a long way - to Roman times in fact. Then there's gelato made with water - sorbetto which originates from Southern Italy - another world of ice cream in itself!

I've visited Northern Italy, tasted real gelato there and also eaten gelato in Italian gelataria in other countries and I can vouch for how different it is to any other ice cream. The photo right is one I took of a wonderful gelataria in Zandvoort (Netherlands). Owned and operated by an Italian family, it is patronised not only by tourists but the local population too - which is always a good sign.

However, you don't have to travel to Italy or indeed even outside your home to enjoy good gelato as you can make it yourself. Here is a vanilla gelato (vaniglia gelato) recipe to try, one of the most popular gelato flavors; other popular ones include strawberry (fragola), chocolate (cioccolato) and banana. I've been busy preparing a few more gelato recipes and hopefully they will be live on the site very soon.

For anyone interested in more detailed information about what makes gelato ice cream different, I have a dedicated Gelato web page that might help give some insight.

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