History of Gelato
History dating back to the days of the Roman Empire shows that Nero Claudius Caesar dined on a mixture of snow, honey and spices. Runners were employed to bring snow from the mountains to the palace where they were flavoured with fruit juices. They were served halfway through a banquet to prepare diners for the numerous and heavy courses which followed. This primitive iced dessert marked the beginning of what would eventually become a worldwide love affair with gelato.
However, it wasn’t until the thirteenth century that Marco Polo discovered recipes for frozen milk desserts among the treasure he brought back from the court of the great Khan. A few centuries later, Francesco Procopio Cutò, a chef from Sicily, developed a gelato making machine from a prototype left to him in an inheritance. He experimented with various recipes and methods and then decided to travel to Paris to promote the new product he had developed via a shopfront on Rue de l’Ancienne Comédie opposite the Comédie Française.
Cutò’s establishment was one of the first in France to serve coffee and gelato. Café Le Procope became a hugely popular cultural and political gathering place, attracting many famous actors, writers, musicians, poets, philosophers, revolutionaries, statesmen, scientists and literary critics to frequent the establishment not only for the coffee and intellectual conversations, but also for the gelato. Café Le Procope still exists today and is considered by some to be the most famous and successful café in Paris.
Cutò is sometimes referred to as the Father of Italian Gelato. He inspired many imitators and the beautiful simplicity of good gelato began to spread.
Gelato has since evolved from a niche product enjoyed by a priviledged few to a smooth sweet treat accessible by all and enjoyed by millions of people around the world.
At Gelatissimo we pay homage to the history of gelato and its inventors by ensuring that every batch of gelato in our gelaterias is made in the traditional way, churned fresh on site.
Includes excerpts from The Incredible Australian Ice Cream Book © Elise Pascoe