With just a few days until we release our newest mystery – Pansy in Venice, we want to take a moment to review some of Pansy, Avery and author Cynthia Bardes’ favorite Italian treats. What better way to celebrate a new book set in Italy than to partake in some tasty native delights? Join us to learn a little more about the our favorite flavors and nibbles!
1. Gelato: A delicious treat in the vein of ice cream, gelato is one of our cherished Italian exports. Perfect to accompany a walk around Venice, or for enjoying the history in St. Mark’s Square on a warm day, gelato is a refreshing way to enjoy, with a rich history.
In English this word commonly refers to varieties of ice cream made in a traditional Italian style. Gelato can be made with milk, cream, various sugars, and flavoring such as fresh fruit and nut purees. It is generally lower in calories, fat and sugar than other styles of ice cream. Gelato is a type of soft ice cream containing a relatively small amount of air. By statute, gelato in Italy must have at least 3.5% butterfat, with no upper limit established.
The history of gelato dates back to frozen desserts in Sicily, ancient Rome and Egypt made from snow and ice brought down from mountaintops and preserved below ground. Later, in 1686 the Sicilian fishermanFrancesco Procopio dei Coltelli perfected the first ice cream machine. However, the popularity of gelato among larger shares of the population only increased in the 1920s–1930s in the northern Italian city of Varese, where the first gelato cart was developed. Italy is the only country where the market share of handmade gelato versus industrial one is over 55%. Today, more than 5,000 modern Italian ice cream parlors employ over 15,000 people, mostly Italians.
2. Pizza: Who doesn’t enjoy a gooey, warm slice of pizza pie? Of course, we had to include this Italian staple – and if you haven’t indulged in a pizza straight from the source, you are missing out! Know as a flatbread generally topped with tomato sauce and cheese and baked in an oven. It is commonly topped with a selection of meats, vegetables and condiments. The term was first recorded in the 10th century, in a Latin manuscript from Gaeta in Central Italy. The modern pizza was invented in Naples, Italy, and the dish and its variants have since become popular in many areas of the world.
In 2009, upon Italy’s request, Neapolitan pizza was safeguarded in the European Union as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed dish!
Modern pizza evolved from similar flatbread dishes in Naples, Italy in the 18th or early 19th century. Prior to that time, flatbread was often topped with ingredients such as garlic, salt, lard, cheese, and basil. It is uncertain when tomatoes were first added and there are many conflicting claims. Until about 1830, pizza was sold from open-air stands and out of pizza bakeries, and pizzerias keep this old tradition alive today. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba in Naples is widely regarded as the first pizzeria.
A popular contemporary legend holds that the archetypal pizza, Pizza Margherita, was invented in 1889, when the Royal Palace of Capodimonte commissioned the Neapolitan pizzaiolo (pizza maker) Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita. Of the three different pizzas he created, the Queen strongly preferred a pie swathed in the colors of the Italian flag: red (tomato), green (basil), and white (mozzarella). Supposedly, this kind of pizza was then named after the Queen as “Pizza Margherita”, although recent research casts doubt on this legend.