The History of Gelato

[fa icon="calendar"] Aug 22, 2016 4:21:03 PM / by Roberta Oddati

Roberta Oddati

the history of gelato


Gelato is always a favorite, especially during summer where everybody is craving that nice cup of cold ice cream to battle the hot sun. Whether you like Gelato, Italian ice cream, or the more traditional American ice cream then summer must be your favorite time of the year. Gelato is different from traditional ice cream because it is known for its very light texture because it's made with milk rather than cream, which is used to make traditional ice cream. Coupled with it’s intense flavor, variety of flavors to choose from and some even served in different unique plastic containers, it is really a tradition of Italian cuisine. So if you like eating gelato, you might be curious to know where it came from. Honestly, it appears that the original gelato did not come from Italy but rather, somewhere else.


the first gelato

You might be surprised that the first gelato had ingredients such as rice, spices, some snow and milk. According to some people, the true origin of frozen and iced desserts is China. A long time ago, Chinese people would freeze overcooked rice, certain spices and milk in snow which resulted in a variety of historical gelato. Later on, other versions of gelato made from fruit juices and milk were so popular among the Chinese community, even before the arrival of Marco Polo. By that time, people could easily buy frozen delicacies in the streets of Beijing which was known during that time as Khanbaliq. Some would even say that Marco Polo brought the idea of gelato to the western world when he returned but some claim that this is false.



egypt and roman gelato

A long time ago during the time of Pharaohs and Roman Legionnaires, shaved ice and snow were already served to the masses. The Pharaohs would serve these to their guests and there are some archeological findings that can prove these. Romans also were known to serve gelato variations which were seen during the excavation of the ancient ruins of Pompeii.


RELATED: How to Spot Great Gelato 


the birth of modern gelato

Sicily is known to a lot as the birthplace of gelato because during the Middle Ages. The habit of mixing fruit juices and ice were brought to Italy by the Moors resulted in making Italian sorbetto. However, a breakthrough in the history of gelato took place in Florence in the 16th century. Caterina de Midici was so in love with the fruits, sugar and ice dessert made by Rugerri, a chicken farmer, that she brought him along with her to France so that he can prepare deserts for the guests during her wedding of the Duke of Orleans. Others claim that the first gelato was made when Bernardo Buontalenti prepared ice cream made from milk, egg yolks, sweet wine, lemon, orange and honey and served it to Charles V the king of Spain.



gelato today

Regardless of the debate where the first gelato was really made, a lot of people now enjoy the ice cold treat everywhere around the world. There are also retail packages that are being offered by gelato shops in order to cater large parties. Gelato customizations also are present in today’s gelato which some are served with customized plastic trays and there are a lot of customized catering trays for gelato. If you are craving for that icy treat for this summer, check out how to find the best gelato shop in town, and enjoy the taste of years of tradition!


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Topics: ice cream, gelato

Roberta Oddati

Written by Roberta Oddati

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