Icecream in Garda, Italy - July 13th, 2007
Gelato - icecream - sure is one of the most fascinating aspects of Italian culture. At least one of the most tasty ones ;-). It comes in a large variety of flavours, and has to be freshly produced and homemade - artigianale - to be considered a worthy dessert for Italians. Here only three of the maybe lesser known compositions available at the better parlors: Ricotta-Fig, Mascarpone-Caramel and Concertina (don't know the ingredients for sure of the latter one, but it's definitely marvelous!).
Like in the pictures shown above and below it's normal style to present the icecream in boxes that are not only full to the brim, but much beyond that. And those mounds of fresh icecream suggest a richness and opulence that's almost impossible to resist. At least once a day you just have to succumb to the temptation and buy some.
But beware: Servings of two different flavours generally are enough for one person, because their size usually is very generous.
In typical tourist areas the icecream shops of course abound, but it's interesting to know while many sources date the beginnings of modern icecream back to the Renaissance in Italy (check here for more information on this) that for a very long time it remained a delicacy reserved for the rich and famous. Only with the invention of freezing machines in the late 19th and early 20th century icecream became easy to produce and affordable for the masses - for us, that is.
Another interesting cultural note: Icecream forms a strong bond between Italy and Germany. Italian icecream parlors became popular in Germany beginning with the 1920's, and at that time the Italian immigrants were the first to introduce the delights of international cuisine to the Germans on a broad scale.
Nowadays it's of course normal in Germany - as in every globalized country - to have restaurants offering food from all "four corners" of the world - you'll find e.g. Mexican, Korean, Indian, Thai food easily, and of course much more. But the Italian Icecream parlors named "Venezia", "Dolomiti", "San Marco" - to name only a few typical ones - were the very first to broaden the culinary knowledge and insights of Germans almost a century ago.
Iceream vendor in Lazise, Italy - July 15th, 2007