How to spot good gelato from fifteen feet away


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Just call it ice cream, Jesus!

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Aha but they are different!

Compared to today’s American-style ice cream (that’s one made with egg yolks, as is basically the new standard in home recipes and commercial products), gelato has less fat in the base and less air churned into it during the freezing process. American ice creams are heavy on the cream, and have a fat content, by American labeling law, of at least 10% (considerably higher in most homemade and many premium versions). Gelato, by comparison, uses more milk than cream, so it doesn’t have nearly as much fat. Additionally, it usually—but not always—uses fewer (to the point of none) egg yolks, another source of fat in custard-based ice creams.


You beat me to it!

I know he’s popular in Italy, but I think Jesus would probably use an Aramaic term.


I had a gelato cone in Florence in August that almost made me swear off of gelato. Not because it was bad, but because it was so good that nothing else could possible match it.

Hell, I almost swore off of food for the same reason. “Why bother eating again? This is as good as it will get.”

The place was on the southwest corner of the road that runs south of the river and a roads that runs over one of the bridges. It had a gourmet food section as well; that part of the shop had “Emporia” in the title.

The cone was coconut on the bottom, dark chocolate on top. Like a Mounds bar.

I had some really good pistachio too. I don’t recall any being bright green. The best I had in a dish with a scoop of an unusual mix flavor . . . ginger hazelnut? Something like that. It was great too.


I’ve always assumed that gelato, in addition to being distinctly different from ice cream, was also aimed at a higher level clientele that demands a certain level of quality. Before reading this I never would have guessed that anyone made gelato with artificial flavors and colors.

I guess I’m just lucky that I live in an area where gelato is still a pretty newfangled thing, and the people who make it are more concerned with quality than quantity. That would explain why at one of my favorite places certain flavors frequently sell out, or just aren’t available.

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According to National Geographic the best place for it is in America


Jeez, but you could’ve covered this in spring, couldntcha? I’m not getting any younger.


My big problem is that this is conflating “artificial flavors” with “worse-tasting gelato.”

While natural ingredients may make you feel all warm and fuzzy in your head, there’s no basis for the belief that natural flavors are inherently superior to man-made, or otherwise isolated ones.


The article’s author is pretty fair about the issue of artificial flavors. He doesn’t immediately dismiss it out of hand, and indicates plenty of times when a more humble shop selling “lower quality” gelato may still be offering you something delicious and satisfying.

That said, most artificial flavors are NOT as tasty as their natural counterparts, and are chosen not for their flavor, but for their cost and shelf stability. No single criteria would be a perfect identifier of “this will taste good and this will taste bad” but the source of the flavorings is certainly a useful data point.


Yes. I remember someone trying to tell me that you could tell good port by the way it drained down the glass after you swirled it. I suggested that tasting it might be an even better way to tell if it was any good. I’d be inclined make the same suggestion with gelato.


I’d also add in artificial coloring. If you are in an area of all natural gelato shops, fine you can have a grey banana, but a lot of average customers are going by their social cues (which in America might mean brighter colors). So I don’t see the harm in adding a little yellow food coloring into a fresh banana gelato just for some color.

Personally I’m still waiting for an artificial strawberry that doesn’t taste like ass. I mean artificial grape taste nothing like a real grape, but it’s a flavor I’ve grown to enjoy (thanks Welch’s grape soda).


True, when you see the term “natural flavors” on many foodstuffs it’s often a euphemism for “chemical additives which were extracted using outdated technologies.” But in this case it’s the difference between using actual fresh fruit vs. a laboratory-created concoction.

It’s like preferring a glass of fresh-squeezed lemonade over a powder-based fluid boasting “lemony flavor.”


I, too, have had gelato in Florence that has left me, say, chasing the pistachio dragon. Two paths diverged, etc., and I’m afraid I now will one day die in a sad heap, whispering, “rosebud,” surrounded by inferior gelato.

I don’t even know if it really was as great as I remember it. Am I just priming my life for future gelato misery by trying to recreate a perfect and transitory moment? Is it because to come to terms with that gelato would mean to come to terms with my own mortality? Oh, the huge manatee.


The secret to happiness is low standards.


Have you met my dog?


Obviously taste is the final arbiter, but if there are 10 gelato shops in a particular stretch it is always nice to have a list of identifiers that positively correlate with quality to narrow your search. I have the same sort of methods for pizza places (though not so carefully written down).

Reading that shoots me back to my childhood. Welch’s grape soda - never seen it outside the USA.

Pistachio has a way of doing that to you. My best was in New York sometime. It’s a happy nadir, a sparkling temple on a mountain that I imaginatively climb whenever pistachio shows up.

I too am bereft. Now that I’m somewhat of a low sugar fella, I’m unsure I’ll ever get back to the temple.

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