The recent reports of the global spread of "gelato parties" have tapped a nostalgic nerve for this ice cream lover. Never a day passed in my many visits to Italy that I didn't push forward to a gelateria counter and scan the large open gelato cylinders that tempted me with countless choices. I usually settled on a pistacchio cono, drifted to a public bench and let the rest of the world pass by unattended by my thoughts.
Italians are very proud of gelato, as well they should be. I've found nothing like it in America, although I'm told gelato is available here and there. Russ Vernon at West Point Market in Akron once told me that he very much wanted to offer the specialty at his place but found the cost of setting up the equipment prohibitive. Our loss!
Gelato recalls to me American ice cream of the more than a half-century ago, when my uncle George would assemble several family members on my grandmother's porch and send me to Sam Samer's Candyland a short walk away to buy Sam's hand-packed pint (15 cents) for each of us. Memorable is something called White House cherry,which contained whole cherries!
What makes it so different? Some writers have done the homework and claim it has 35 pct. less air than American ice cream, which allows our makers to swell their offerings it to fill a pint or quart container. Gelato also is said to be made with whole cow's milk from Italian cows eating Italian hillside grass.
But that's getting too technical for me. If you want to try the real thing, I'd advise you to hop on the next plane headed for Italy. (If you're dieting, I won't tell.) Send me a card telling me I wasn't exaggerating. I'll hunt for a "gelato party" - whatever it is - and happily claim another convert.