The origin of ice cream
The great history of ice cream and frozen beverages is an incredible story that
takes us back, way back to the fourth century before the Christian era. It takes us to
the court of Alexander the Great, who was a fine gourmet. Always searching for new
treats, he discovered one day a way to create a new dish. He was using the snow that
his slaves were bringing down from the mountain to refresh fruit that he had
previously baked in honey.
Several centuries later, the Emperor Neuron was serving his guests a beverage made
of mashed fruit ,honey and snow. A Roman man, Maxims Gurgus, talked about
this innovation with so much enthusiasm, he even tells the date, the year 62 A.C.
the narrator added that they even use to send soldiers in the Apennine Mountains to go get
enough snow; that shows that the army was always used for transport, even at the
beginning of our era.
The word sorbet comes from the Arabian word sherbet which means syrup. The
Sultans of Bagdad were offering those sherbets to their guests to their great delight.
Ancient tales are talking about it but we don`t know how they got the snow to
refresh the dishes.
All the good food lovers should think about Marco Polo and thank him. From his
numerous trips around the world, he brought back pasta and ice cream. He thought cooks of his century, the thirteen century as a matter fact, an impressive
amount of delicious recipes based on fruit and honey. He discovered that, instead of
using snow, he could let water with saltpetre poor down on the surface of the
containers holding the fruit. All Venice was rushing at the shop where those icy
beverages were sold at very high prices.
The others Italian cities follow the example and a Roman man of the name of
Bernardo Bontalent went bankrupt trying to produce it on a large scale.
The ice was imported in France by Catherine de Medicis after she wedded
Henry the Second. Her son Henry the Third just loved those cold beverages and
abused them sometimes. Under the reign of Louis Thirteen, the famous cook
Vatel was offering to the guests of his majesty a delicious treat hard as marble and
smooth to the mouth, which he called the icy surprises.
An other French cook, at the service of Charles the First,king of England, added
to the Italian recipe some milk and cream. He was receiving 500 hundred pounds per
year to keep his discovery secret.
The Procope café
,established by the Italian Procopie Cutelli in Paris in front of the
French comedy theatre, was the very first Salon of Ices.All people of Paris were
savoring delicious ice cream and the visitors were going back home so excited that
they encouraged the establishment of similar cafés in their own city.
Vienna was one of them. People would even eat ice cream in summer and winter.
The testimony of even the famous musician Beethoven himself proves the extreme
popularity of this treat. The extreme heat in the summer time is exhausting the stock
of natural ice. The people from Vienna are all scared at the thought of running
out of it and their ice cream.
The English Advised Homemaker, cooking book edited in London, was the first
printed brochure giving out ice cream recipes. The date of origin of that book is
1750, witch shows that the homemakers already know at those early dates how to
prepare this delicious dish.
A French cook published at the same dates an other cooking book, in which we found
a large chapter dedicated to ice cream. Also at the beginning of the 18th century, the Tattler Magazine published a great article about that: cream bated like snow, iced and served a few instants after your lips have been burned by the salt and the pepper.
That was the first gourmet article published in a newspaper in history.
An Italian man called Lensi turned on the American people to ice cream: he had to
make his business place much bigger to be able to respond to the heavy demand. In
1777, he announced in the newspaper the Gazette the opening of a huge Salon selling
ice cream all year around. Washington ordered a very large quantity and Lafayette,
back from America talked about this extraordinary wave with enthusiasm.
An American Lady, Nancy Johnston, invented the sorbetiere, but did not register it
for patent. A man name Young did it instead of her and became very wealthy.
A highly developed industry in Canada and the USA, ice cream is
reaching hundred of millions of dollars in business yearly and the annual production
reaches over 250 000 000 000 of pints.
We have gone a long way from the bucket Alexander the Great berried in the snow.
La revue Populaire,Montréal,August 1957