Anyone who knows me is fully aware of my sweet tooth. As much as I try to curb it, if it has sugar, I’ll probably eat it. Ice cream is one of my biggest weaknesses; it comes in any flavour to suit my mood, it’s sweet, creamy, and you can add any extras you like to make it even more decadent (my usual additions include milk, chocolate chips or cacao nibs, a spoonful of almond butter and a little shot of something to make it seem more grown-up.)
But it doesn’t compare to gelato.
My boyfriend Mark (now husband) and I discovered gelato on our first trip together, which was to Italy. Walking by glass displays sporting icy rainbowed goodness was too much of a temptation to resist on those hot, sunny days. We assumed “gelato” was just an Italian word for “ice cream” but it is so much more. It has a different texture for one, and a few different ingredients as well.
Gelato has less fat than ice cream since it’s typically made with more milk rather than cream. It’s also mixed more slowly than ice cream, which means less air is whipped in, making it denser. You’ll also find that gelaterias are a bit more experimental in their flavours than most ice cream shops. Cactus, tomato and basil, whisky, habanero, rose and pink pepper, lavender and more are all possible with gelato.
Italy doesn’t have the market cornered on good gelato shops either. We found great gelaterias in Spain, France and the Netherlands, as well as even here at home (though the local shops tend to stick with more common flavours.) Warmer countries do seem to make slightly better gelato though, just because of the availability of fresh ingredients.
Which brings me to a great tip we learned from our tour guide in Italy. Always look for the grey banana. What does that mean? Well, if you come across a gelato shop with a banana flavoured gelato (common in Italy), and the gelato is a bright, sunny yellow, they’re probably using artificial flavours and colours. If the banana gelato is grey, it’s a sign of fresh fruit being used.
Great, now I’m hungry.