Back in 1984, President Ronald Reagan declared July to be National Ice Cream Month and July 15th to be National Ice Cream Day in the United States. Most often, the holiday is celebrated on the 3rd Sunday of July.
Like most kids in America, I grew up eating ice cream regularly, especially during the summer months. I can still remember lounging in the pool and waiting for the sound of our neighborhood ice cream truck making its way down the street. My best friend and I would bolt from the pool and make our way to the front yard as soon as we’d hear the music, which now, as an adult, I find extremely annoying ironically.
One thing I learned early on in my childhood was regular ice cream soon bored me. I think there’s a reason they refer to boring things as “vanilla” sometimes. I was not a vanilla ice cream kinda girl, unless it had heaps of caramel on it. I can distinctly remember driving my parents bonkers during multiple pouting fits if we went to our local Foster Freeze and they didn’t have chocolate that day.
As I got older (aka had my own money) I started buying more interesting and unique flavors of ice cream — the more stuff mixed in, the better!
And then in 2006, I visited Italy for the first time.
Gelato…The answer to all my frozen dessert dreams.
Sadly, it seemed to be a fleeting affair as I did not indulge in too much gelato since that trip. Perhaps, it was discovering Movenpick’s decadent ice cream and various shaved ice desserts the last few years in Asia that distracted me from my true love.
And then, the Blogville project with the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board presented itself, and I suddenly found myself back in Italy three different times for a total of 25 days between May and now. In fact, I just returned from Italy yesterday.
Gelato and I were reunited and it was love at first bite all over again — we picked up right where we left off so long ago.
Wonder what the differences are between gelato and ice cream? Despite many saying that gelato is just Italian ice cream, there are noticeable and important differences that separate gelato from the traditional ice cream many of us grew up with.
Gelato has Less Air and Lower Fat
Gelato has much less air than traditional ice cream, which can be as much as 50% air. And for those concerned about the fat content in ice cream, check out gelato! Gelato typically has 4-6% fat whereas ice cream may contain as much as 16% in some cases.
Gelato is Made Daily
Typically, gelato is made on a daily basis in gelaterias in Italy whereas ice cream is often made in large batches incorporating ingredients designed to ensure its lengthy storage in the freezer.
Gelato has a Stronger Flavor
Because of the less incorporated air, lower fat, and higher temperature, you have probably noticed you get a more pronounced flavor profile versus eating ice cream of same flavor. According to the Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna, this is because the higher fat content in ice cream coats the tongue, the less air in gelato provides more flavor in each spoonful, and your taste buds are not dulled from the frozen temperature of ice cream.
The stronger flavor profile, the softer and more smooth texture, and the lower fat content are just a few of the reasons I prefer authentic gelato over ice cream. I could not, and would not, eat ice cream every day, but I could, and did in a few instances, eat gelato every day in Italy. Blog posts of all the amazing gelato I consumed in Emilia Romagna still to come!
I think it’s safe to say after Blogville, my love affair with gelato is likely to transition into a more long-term romance. Fortunately, there is a pretty decent gelato place next to the new apartment in the Netherlands, and I am thinking of taking my love of gelato to a new level — perhaps taking a class and learning how to make it myself!
While my stay(s) in Emilia Romagna were hosted by the tourism board, all views and opinions are my own.