Gelato, the Italian-born but world-renowned creamy and flavorful ice cream, is more than just a dessert in Italy; it is an important component of the country’s social culture. Maybe it’s only because I have an excessively large sweet tooth and am jealously well aware of every tasty looking cone or cup in view, but it seems that everywhere you look, at any hour of the day, someone is enjoying a gelato.
Coming from the diet-conscious, weight-loss obsessed United States, I am fascinated by Italy’s gelato tradition; a tradition that for many begins here in Bologna, studying the cuisine and art at the Gelato University. Gelato provides no health benefits but is still a staple of Italian cuisine. I have traveled through seven Italian towns or cities over the last week and a half and they all have one thing in common: gelaterias. In Italy, going for a gelato may rival going for a coffee or a drink in social settings elsewhere.
Italians and tourists alike enjoy the treat after a sometimes stressful process of selecting flavors based on flavor preference and gelato presentation, which often takes somewhat of an art form and heavily influences a customer’s decision. Even the gelato business has its own creative form of public relations where product presentation is everything. If you like what you see in the window, most likely you will be enjoying a spoonful within minutes. Thus, as usual, the Italians do what they do best, turn food into art and make it taste good while doing so.