The joy of ice cream
The Italians are famous for many things, including art, history, fashion and cuisine. Some of the best food in the world originated in Italy. As well as the stereotypical pizza and spaghetti, the Italians also make excellent desserts. Some of my favourites are tiramisù, panna cotta and of course, ice cream. The ice cream here is soft, delicious and very cheap. I am on my year abroad in Southern Italy and I have to resist the urge to eat it every day. There is nothing I like better than sitting on the seafront or on a park bench with a new flavour of ice cream, eating it quickly to stop it dripping onto my hands.
Frozen desserts were eaten in Ancient Rome but the ice cream that we know today appeared in Florence during the 16th century. It was a rich treat at the Medici family’s royal banquets. Ice cream became more popular in the 1920s when people sold it from carts in the streets. Nowadays, most of the ice cream produced in Italy is still handmade and there are over five thousand gelaterie, or Italian ice cream shops, in the world,
The ice cream shops here in Puglia are open for most of the day: people can go and have an ice cream at any time, even late at night. There are so many interesting flavours that you could never possibly get bored of it. I always spend ages looking through the glass, trying to decide what to have. I usually choose one of my favourites: coffee, wild berries or chocolate. One evening though, I chose a flavour typical of the South of Italy called “Zuppa Inglese”. It translates as ‘English soup’, which sounded funny and made me curious to taste it. I found out later that it is a dessert made from custard and sponge cake soaked in pink liqueur. The taste of the ice cream was quite strong but I enjoyed it anyway.
In an ice cream shop, the display of ice cream can be quite spectacular. I have seen shops with huge mounds of it decorated with fresh fruit and biscuits. They usually offer lots of different ice cream based desserts. I recently tried affogato for the first time: it is espresso poured over vanilla ice cream. I love the cold sweetness of the ice cream with the hot, bitter coffee. Ice cream is one of my favourite things about Italian cuisine: this year, I’m going to try as many flavours as possible.