By Christine Jackson
FLORENCE, Italy –In Chicago they say there’s a Walgreens on every corner. Here the same could be said for gelaterias. They dot corners, side streets and piazzas, each one offering to fill the craving that comes at any and every hour. No matter what street you’re on or what time it is, someone in this city always seems to be holding gelato.
In the US somebody is probably going to judge you if you’re carrying an ice cream cone around at 10:30 in the morning on a rainy day. Not so here in Florence, where the creamy dessert is constantly present in the streets and on cozy tables throughout the city.
Gelato is similar to ice cream, but the process of making it is slightly different. Gelato has more milk and less egg and a typical cream recipe. It is also churned more slowly, which adds less air and makes it more dense. The differences in processes are slight, but the difference in flavor is noticeable. Gelato has a smoother texture and is never icy like some ice creams are. The flavors are also far richer than any ice creams I’ve had, perhaps due to the density. The flavors in ice cream may also diluted by their greater proportion of cream, but that’s just speculation.
The peach gelato I tasted had an incredibly strong peach flavor, but not in an artificial or syrupy way. Even the homemade peach ice cream I’ve had at roadside stands in Georgia and Alabama can’t touch the flavor that was packed into my tiny spoonful at Enrico’s gelateria and bar.
The quality of this popular dessert (and snack … and sometimes lunch) is only outdone by the quantities available. Beyond the many, many gelaterias, bright cases beckon from restaurants, cafes, coffee shops and convenience stores. Whether in tourist-tempting mountains of color and toppings or whorled tightly and correctly into their containers, gelato is everywhere.
Not that we’re complaining