Archive for the ‘Food!’ Category

Ice Cream

From Croatia

Fagylalt, gelato, une glasse, an ice cream. Whatever you want to call it, it’s one of the tastiest substances ever created.

We’ve been here for a few weeks now, and I wanted to post about a subject that I think is near and dear to all of our hearts: ice cream. When in Europe, my family make a casual unspoken goal of eating as many scoops of the stuff as possible. We’ve eaten ice cream so many times that it has practically become family tradition, along with all the customs and habits that go along with ice cream.

From Selected Sabbatical Pix

Over the past few years we have eaten ice cream in cones and bowls, probably spanning a hundred or so flavors, and from various countries including the United States, Hungary, Italy, and most recently Croatia. I have to say that nothing so far has quite matched the delicious gelato we enjoyed at Roma Gelato in Rimini, Italy on our visit in 2009, but there are many other places that have come close including the Marcipán Cukrázda here in Szolnok.

According to wikipedia, the modern milk or cream based ice cream is Arabic in origin and was invented around the 9th or 10th century. It’s possible that this dessert was based on water-ice based chilled dessert recipes coming from ancient Rome, Greece, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Persia and Arabia, the earliest estimated dates being around 400 B.C. The Turks continued the practice of making chilled milk desserts, with the exception that they added rock salt during the creation process to aid its freezing and delay the melting. Italian merchants brought ice cream back to Europe during the renaissance, and was served only to nobles and royalty for several centuries because of the high cost of bringing ice in from the mountains, the only method of cooling available during the time period. It wasn’t until 1718 that the first known published recipe appeared in the famous London cookbook Mrs. Mary Eales’s Receipts. From the 1940s onwards, the cheap cost of refrigeration made it possible for ice cream to become a franchise. And that’s how we got the tasty treat we all enjoy today!

From Selected Sabbatical Pix

I have to say that when it comes to ice cream, I do have my own preferences. Here’s where personal opinion comes in. I’m not picky about what flavor of ice cream you enjoy best, as long as you enjoy it. Whatever floats your boat, I say. Nonetheless, I decided to take a poll about my family’s favorite flavors, just for fun. Here’s what I found out. My favorites are lemon (citrom) and hazelnut, although the Italian “pompello rossa” is pretty close. My dad said grapefruit (pompello rosso in Italian) and lemon, anya (my mom) said kókusz (Hungarian for coconut) and wild berry, and my sister’s are cantaloupe and zöldalma (green apple). Funny enough, most experienced ice cream eaters like ourselves seem to enjoy fruit flavors. I don’t know about the rest of our family. I’ll ask mama and tata about theirs at the nearest opportunity.

From August 2011

Although they are not nearly as famous for it as Italy, France or other Mediterranean countries, I would think–based on my experience–that Hungary is a pretty decent producer of ice cream, both by quantity and quality. You can go almost anywhere in the country and find little indie ice cream places, and the only chains available are American and other foreign brands that have overflowed. You can bet that for every 5,000 or so people living in a town, there will be at least one ice cream place. Though some are more commercial than others, walking around we have found at least 20 locations of ice cream vendors in Szolnok alone. Only time will tell if we will try them all.

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