Have you ever wondered about the history of gelato? Frozen drinks have been around for centuries, with various cultures making their own versions to cool off in the hot weather. So can we assume it originated with the Italians?
Let’s talk about what we do know.
History of Gelato
In Italy, the people of Dolomite in the north used milk, cream, sugar, eggs, and flavors to make the first true gelato. It is widely believed that they sold it to tourists during the summer months, but in winter, travel dropped off and so did their income.
To keep making money, they took their gelato to Europe and started selling it there.
Introduction of Gelato to Europe Beyond Italy’s Borders
Caterina de Medici, an influential figure in Italian history, also played a big role in introducing gelato to Europe. She held a contest to create a new dessert and Giuseppe Ruggeri, a chicken vendor, won with his amazing sorbet.
Impressed with his creation, Caterina brought Ruggeri with her to France as one of her Italian chefs. He made many fantastic desserts for court dinners, but refused to share his secret Italian recipe with the other chefs.
Gelato History in the 16th Century
Born in 1531 in Florence, Italy Bernardo Buontalenti, who was part of the court of Francesco de Medici, also made significant contributions to the history of gelato. He was the first to create gelato by churning it over salt and ice.
In the 16th century, gelato was a luxury dessert served mainly in the courts of kings and queens in Europe. But in 1686, Francesco Procopio opened a restaurant and started selling gelato to the public.
Nowadays, eating gelato has become an Italian pastime, much like drinking espresso. People love to sit in sidewalk cafes, enjoying their delicious gelato and watching the world go by.
Gelato has also moved into our homes where we can make gelato at home with our very own gelato makers. Gelato has certainly wiggled it’s way into our hearts!
Different Theories on Gelato History
There are actually several theories about the origins of gelato. While some believe that gelato’s roots can be traced back to ancient Rome, others argue that it was developed in the Middle East before making its way to Italy.
Some even suggest that Marco Polo brought the recipe back from China.
Regardless of its exact origins, there’s no denying that gelato has become a beloved dessert throughout Italy and the world. In fact, the country is known for having some of the best gelato in the world, with many gelaterias (gelato shops) using only the freshest and highest quality ingredients to make their sweet treats.