Confessions of a Gelato Lover
Gluttonous, lusting for a food
by Mark Leslie
From the very first moment I walked into a gelateria during my first vacation in Italy in September, 2001, to experience the double-scoop flavor combination of cioccolato (chocolate) and bacio (chocolate with hazelnuts), I have been in love with this very Italian treat.
Most Americans think of gelato as ice cream. However, it is not really “ice cream,” since it is made from milk and not cream like its American cousin. Using milk gives gelato a smoother and subtler texture than the frozen ice cream we scoop from containers bought at our local supermarket. In Italy, gelato is almost always purchased at una gelateria (think ice cream shop), and there is a long cultural tradition of going out to eat gelato.
During the month I lived in Italy with an Italian family and studied cooking from the grandmother and language from her daughter, I think I ate my weight in gelato–yet never gained a pound. Trust me, it isn’t that gelato has some miracle diet ingredient hidden in it or that I ate fat-free gelato. (Mamma mia, I don’t even think they make such a thing! )
On that trip, I learned a couple of “rules of the gelato road”:
1. When ordering gelato you must always chose two different flavors –- due gusti (two tastes) if not more, regardless of whether your cup or cone is small or large. Order only one flavor, and watch the counter person look at you as if you arrived from Mars. I always go for a chocolate/chocolate combination, such as mandorla (chocolate with almonds) and stracciatella (the Italian version of vanilla with chocolate chip).
Lillo, the father of the family I lived with, thought I was missing the point of two gelato flavors. He was always insisting that I use his gelato philosophy: a scoop of fruit flavor (raspberry, strawberry, lemon, blackberry, cantaloupe, pear, or apple) paired with a scoop of vanilla, yogurt, cream, or fior di latte (flower of milk–-a subtle cream-flavored gelato). My favorite combination using his advice is cannella (cinnamon) paired with fico (fig).
2. Whenever I would start to complain to Lillo about how I was going to get fat (grasso) from eating so much gelato, he would remind me not to worry because “Gelato é liquido.” (Gelato is liquid.) According to this theory, water is a liquid. Water isn’t fattening. So liquid isn’t fattening. Therefore, gelato isn’t fattening, because once you eat it, it just melts and becomes a liquid.
I trusted his theory, ate gelato at every opportunity, and returned home a month later eight pounds lighter. This really had more to do with a diet higher in fresh fruit, less processed food, and a lot of walking –- everywhere. But if his theory keeps me eating gelato “guilt-free,” I am all for Lillo, the gelato philosopher and scientist!
My most recent trip to Italy found me in a little gelateria, tucked back off a narrow Roman street, eating a scoop of garden sage with strawberry paired with a scoop of fennel, caramel, and almond. Wow! Of course, hours later I was there having my next combination –- lavender with peach paired opposite tartufo –- dark, rich, and decadent chocolate. I think Lillo would have cringed.
For a chance to win a copy of Mark’s book and other fun prizes, click here to enter our “Fall in Love with Italy” contest.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes
- 1 Brooklyn Man Now Living Entirely Off Own Beard Garden
- 2 First Openly Straight Figure Skater Comes Forward
- 3 “Cra Cra” Now Official Diagnosis in New DSM (DSM-5)
- 4 OfficeMax Marketing Director Struggling to Make Staplers ‘Sexy’ and ‘Conversational’
- 5 Homeless Guy Woos Silicon Valley VCs with Low-Tech Crowdfunding Startup
- 6 Area Man Tailors Life To Be More Relevant To His Hulu Advertisements
- 7 Fan Banging Furiously on Glass Could Be the Difference in Hockey Playoffs
- 8 Survey: 88% of Eagles Fans Too Drunk To Spell Nnamdi Asomugha Last Season
- 9 Attorney Actually Starting to Believe Own Bullshit
- 10 Local Mom Won’t Stop Being First Person to Like Every Goddamn Thing Son Posts to Facebook