It was love at first sight. We met in Rome, at a local café, while I was wandering around the cobblestone streets on a warm summer evening. I admired its smooth body, dense structure and luscious high intensity. The moment it touched my tongue, I knew that we will have a relationship for life. Since then, it has consumed my mind and my wallet, while I have consumed it by the gallons. My favorite dish is gelato, an Italian ice cream which is created when nature, technology, imagination and tradition blend together happily.
The origin of gelato dates back to ancient Rome and Egypt, when they made frozen desserts using ice and snow. Florence (circa 1600’s) is said to be the birthplace of the modern day gelato, where milk mated with sugar, cream and natural ingredients such as fruits and nuts. Ice cream is a younger cousin of gelato which claims to be richer in butterfat but is full of air.
My love for gelato has taken me on a quest around the world. I started off by desperately needing to stop and taste at every display case I passed by from Montreal to Bangalore. I would critique, compare, analyze, leaving my final judgment with the seller, whether they cared for it or not. After realizing that there were only a few quality cases out there that met my seal of approval, I decided to perfect the recipes in my very own kitchen. After countless hours of blending, tempering, whisking, boiling, grinding and freezing, I attained a satisfactory level of competency whereby I was able to share my love with a few family and friends. Soon enough I was being told, “Your (coffee, dulce de leche, fig and port, maple walnut, strawberry) gelato is the best I have ever had!”
Like in any other marriage, I couldn’t just love. I had to study and perfect my object of affection. As a result, I ended up in training seminar by Luciano Ferrari, a world renowned gelato maker from Italy. That was like going on a second honeymoon. I discovered new creative ways and techniques that have made our relationship even more interesting.
What’s most intriguing about gelato is the interplay between sugar, protein and fat molecules. The delicate interaction creates an emotional product that appeals to any age, culture, or background. It is very much like the Buddhist philosophy of cause and effect. Like life, in gelato making, everything that happens is not just from one cause, but several for example the reaction of one ingredient with another can be different with just a slight change in formula. The objective is to make sure that you use the best ingredients in correct proportions and let the universe intervene to create the perfect balance of flavor, texture and density.
In addition to the many nights of sweet satisfaction, gelato has taught me a lot about living, loving and patience. I always knew our love was more than just physical, it was a spiritual connection that was meant to be.