Great Foods of Italy: Gelato
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First things first: gelato is good for you - don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. How so?
Gelato provides the body with all the nutrients it needs: carbohydrates, proteins and fats, especially when you go for a cream- and milk-based flavor (the so-called creme), as well as vitamins and mineral salts, particularly abundant in fruit flavors.
Gelato is also highly digestible and for this reason it can replace a full meal, especially during summer, when the hot Italian temperatures are not enticing to big meals. Besides, gelato helps replenish liquids easily lost in the heat because it contains water, which makes it a good option when you want a snack after exercising.
Mind you, the above only applies to artisanal gelato, the one made without hydrogenated fats and dyes; it doesn’t apply to industrial ice-cream, including those hyper-fluffy, brightly-colored mounds you see in some gelaterias, made with pre-prepared industrial gels and mixes full of chemical additives.
Gelato is less fat and contains less air than ice-cream, and it’s served at a higher temperature. These factors give gelato a much richer taste than ice-cream. Gelato is made in smaller quantities, as it never uses the long-life ingredients that industrial ice-cream uses, a guarantee of freshness.
When was gelato invented? The “modern” history of gelato begins in the Renaissance with alchemist Cosimo Ruggieri, who is credited with creating the first gelato flavor at the court of the Medici family in Florence, the fior di latte. Gelato has a predecessor in sorbet, invented by the Arabs in Sicily, a cold and syrupy substance made from cane sugar, flower petals and fruit. The Arabs grew in fact as many as 400 different types of flowers to flavor their sorbets.
Last but not least, did you know that eating gelato stimulates the production of serotonin, the happiness hormone, which in turn helps fight stress? The effect is said to be amplified when you savor gelato sitting down or leisurely strolling in an Italian piazza.
Per prima cosa: il gelato ti fa bene, non credere a chi ti dice il contrario! Ed ecco perché.
Il gelato fornisce all'organismo tutti i nutrienti di cui ha bisogno: carboidrati, proteine e grassi, soprattutto quando si sceglie un gusto a base di panna e latte (le cosiddette creme), oltre a vitamine e sali minerali, particolarmente abbondanti nei gusti alla frutta.
Il gelato è inoltre altamente digeribile e per questo può sostituire un pasto completo, soprattutto dur