01/23/2012 11:07 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

Gelato Explained

The Splendid Table®'s How To Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper

Dear Lynne,

Is the only difference between gelato and ice cream in the language you speak and the higher price for an Italian word?

Jill from Addison


Dear Jill:

Granted, say it in Italian or French and you can get a higher price, but what separates a good gelato from good American ice cream is a soft, silky consistency, intense flavor, and the fact that though gelato tastes lush, it's surprisingly lean.

To experience gelato the way Italians eat it, have it from a tub where it's not frozen solid. Because gelato's essentially not very rich, in Italy it's always served soft, so it tastes creamy. Gelato is gathered on a paddle-like utensil and overlapped in cones or cups like petals on a rose.

Even though we usually get our gelato rock hard from the freezer case, we can come close to those rose petals. Give the container 10 to 15 seconds in the microwave to soften the gelato, then use a large spoon to shave off furls of the gelato and arrange it in a bowl.