11 Refreshing Facts about Gelato

iStock
iStock

Italy deserves major kudos for the culinary gifts—pizza, pasta, and pesto, to name a few—it has bestowed upon the world. But nothing instantly improves a hot summer day like savoring a cup (or cone) of gelato. Read on for 11 facts you might not know about the dense, refreshing dessert.

1. THE ITALIAN WORD CONGELATO MEANS FROZEN.

In Italian, the word congelato means frozen, and the word congelare means to freeze. Although gelato is the Italian version of ice cream, it’s not merely Dreyer’s with a European, artisanal flair. Like ice cream, gelato contains milk, sugar, and flavorings such as fruit or nuts, but it has less cream than ice cream and usually no egg yolks.

2. EARLY ITALIAN GELATO WAS CLOSER TO SORBET THAN ICE CREAM.

Although we don’t know the exact origins of gelato, ancient peoples in China and Egypt added fruit and salt to snow to make a primitive cold dessert. Ancient Roman emperors reportedly ate similar desserts, and this type of dessert is one of the myriad of culinary inventions that Catherine de' Medici is credited (rightly or wrongly) with bringing from Florence to Paris upon her 1533 marriage to the future King of France. But the lack of milk (Italians had used water instead) meant that early gelato more closely resembled sorbetto (a.k.a. sorbet).

3. A SICILIAN FISHERMAN OPENED THE FIRST GELATO CAFÉ IN PARIS.

In 1686, Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, a Sicilian fisherman and chef from Palermo, made the first gelato machine. He opened a café in Paris, called Café Procope, which sold gelato and coffee to Parisians and literary thinkers including Voltaire and Rousseau. Amazingly, you can still visit Café Procope, and the restaurant now serves dishes such as duck foie gras, beef tartare, and snails.

4. IT HAS LESS FAT BUT MORE FLAVOR THAN ICE CREAM.

Most people love that gelato miraculously contains less fat than regular ice cream but seems to taste more flavorful. As gelato expert Morgan Morano told NPR, gelato is softer, smoother, and denser than ice cream because less air is churned into it, and it has less butterfat. “Butterfat coats your palate, and if you have less of it you can taste the flavors more quickly,” Morano explained.

5. ITS WARMER TEMPERATURE ALSO GIVES IT STRONGER FLAVOR.

Gelato should be stored at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream. Ice cream is typically served between 0 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit, while gelato is between 7 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmer temperature means that gelato is soft, silky, and more pleasing to your taste buds; your tongue is less numbed by the cold, so you can better appreciate the flavor.

6. AVOID GELATO THAT’S SERVED WITH A SCOOPER.

If you want authentic gelato, don’t buy it from a shop that uses ice cream scoops. Instead, gelato should be scooped with a spade or paddle. The flat surface is better equipped to gently scoop up your flavor of choice. “Not only can you work gelato with the spade to soften it up, but there's a whole artistry,” Morano said.

7. KNOW THE LINGO WHEN ORDERING IN ITALY.

Whether you’re ordering gelato in Italy (or at an authentic gelateria elsewhere), you should know gelato-related terminology. If you’re in need of a serious dose of caffeine, order affogato. You’ll get a scoop of gelato doused in espresso. If you want to make your gelato extra decadent, opt for gelato con panna to get gelato topped with whipped cream. And for an Italian ice cream sandwich, order brioche con gelato.

8. THE GELATO WORLD CUP IS A THING.

Every other year, international teams compete at the Gelato World Cup (called Coppa del Mondo della Gelateria in Italian). Teams from countries including Japan, Morocco, the United States, Spain, and Poland traveled to Italy to compete in the most recent competition, in January 2016. After the teams made their best gelato dishes, sundaes, and ice sculptures, the Italian team won first place. Obviously.

9. POPULAR FLAVORS IN GELATERIAS INCLUDE BACIO, STRACCIATELLA, AND LIMONE…

In Italy, gelatai (sellers of gelato) go way beyond the typical chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. Gelaterias offer a ton of fruit-based flavors, as well as richer dessert ones. Popular gelato flavors include bacio (chocolate hazelnut), stracciatella (vanilla with streaks of chocolate chip), limone (lemon), pistacchio (pistachio), fico (fig), and cocco (coconut).

10. …AND VIAGRA GELATO IS A REAL FLAVOR.

Although there are plenty of weird gelato flavors in Italy, Viagra might be the weirdest. Rather than actually containing the prescription drug, Viagra gelato is made with African aphrodisiac herbs. The color is bright blue, and it reportedly tastes like either bubblegum or black licorice (anise). However, a celebrity client once requested that his prescription Viagra be included in a private batch—the gelataio estimated it cost $33 a scoop.

11. GELATO DOES BIG BUSINESS.

Between 2009 and 2014, gelato sales increased dramatically from $11 million to $214 million. More and more Americans are buying gelato, and traditional ice cream companies have jumped on the gelato train. Häagen-Dazs now offers dark chocolate chip, sea salt caramel, black cherry amaretto, and tiramisu gelato, while Breyers’ Gelato Indulgences line has salted caramel truffle, peanut butter chocolate, chocolate hazelnut, and chocolate fudge truffle. As of 2014, the gelato company Talenti is the number three seller of premium ice cream in the U.S., behind Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs.

All images via iStock.

General Mills Is Recalling More Than 600,000 Pounds of Gold Medal Flour Over E. Coli Risk

jirkaejc/iStock via Getty Images
jirkaejc/iStock via Getty Images

The FDA recently shared news of a 2019 product recall that could impact home bakers. As CNN reports, General Mills is voluntarily recalling 600,000 pounds of its Gold Medal Unbleached All-Purpose Flour due to a possible E. coli contamination.

The decision to pull the flour from shelves was made after a routine test of the 5-pound bags. According to a company statement, "the potential presence of E. coli O26" was found in the sample, and even though no illnesses have been connected to Gold Medal flour, General Mills is recalling it to be safe.

Escherichia coli O26 is a dangerous strain of the E. coli bacterium that's often spread through commercially processed foods. Symptoms include abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Most patients recover within a week, but in people with vulnerable immune systems like young children and seniors, the complications can be deadly.

To avoid the potentially contaminated batch, look for Gold Medal flour bags with a "better if used by" date of September 6, 2020 and the package UPC 016000 196100. All other products sold under the Gold Medal label are safe to consume.

Whether or not the flour in your pantry is affected, the recall is a good reminder that consuming raw flour can be just as harmful as eating raw eggs. So when you're baking cookies, resist having a taste until after they come out of the oven—or indulge in one of the many edible cookie dough products on the market instead.

[h/t CNN]

The World's Spiciest Chip Is Sold Only One to a Customer

Paqui
Paqui

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to get pepper-sprayed directly in your mouth, Paqui Chips has something you can’t afford to miss. Following the success of their Carolina Reaper Madness One Chip Challenges back in 2016 and 2017, Food & Wine reports that the company has re-released the sadistic snack. Continuing their part-marketing gimmick, part-public safety effort, the Reaper chip won’t be sold in bags. You just get one chip.

That’s because Paqui dusts its chips with the Carolina Reaper Pepper, considered the world’s hottest, and most (attempted) consumers of the chip report being unable to finish even one. To drive home the point of how hot this chip is—it’s really, extremely, punishingly hot—the chip is sold in a tiny coffin-shaped box

Peppers like the Carolina Reaper are loaded with capsaicin, a compound that triggers messages of heat and pain and fiery consumption; your body can respond by vomiting or having shortness of breath. While eating the chip is not the same as consuming the bare, whole pepper, it’s still going to be a very uncomfortable experience. For a profanity-filled example, you can check out this video:

The chip will be sold only on Paqui’s website for $6.99 per chip or $59.90 for a 10-pack. The company also encourages pepper aficionados to upload photos or video of their attempts to finish the chip. If it becomes too much, try eating yogurt, honey, or milk to dampen the effects.

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