~*Jury Panelist at the 8th edition of the Gelato Festival in Florence!

Life is a sum of experiences; some are bitter others are sweet. Many are memorable; they are the “vanilla version” while others are as intense as the bouquet of summer following you into the room…

From my memorable experiences, the “vanilla version” ones, I can recall a lot of events, discoveries and encounters…  And, from my long list, I can go back in time and stop on Friday, April 21st, 2017 and relocate myself on a hill with a view hardly found on any postcard;  Feeling the air from the surrounding hills and calling to mind the effect of my sight due to perspective and height perceiving, Brunelleschi’s dome, Arnolfo’s tower, the dome of San Lorenzo and Giotto’s bell tower as well as other astounding Renaissance palaces…

A frame that’s nothing but a stratification of a frozen moment in my memory lane but an ongoing one at all Florentine times where the Arno river that once destroyed the city by flood and continuously nourishes it with commerce will remain there to observe everyone’s destiny…

I was predestined on that particular date to be in Florence and more specifically, at Piazzale Michelangelo, enjoying and savoring vanilla and surreal Gelato flavors with other International professionals and experts in the food business… Little did I know back then about those “vanilla tasting memories” made possible with Carpigiani Gelato University!

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The only thing I acknowledged is my luck to be selected by the most prestigious Gelato University in the world: Carpigiani Gelato University (www.gelatouniversity.com) to participate in the voting with a panel of skillful specialists for an eligible candidate to participate in the 8th edition of the Gelato World Tour.

The Gelato World Tour, which is supported by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and of Economic Development, as well as the Regione Emilia Romagna, is the first international traveling competition in search of the best flavors in the world.

More than 20 participants from different Italian regions (Reggio Emilia, Lucca, San Miniato,etc.) were there to present their unique flavors and gelato blends aiming to be entitled to participate in the world Finals of Gelato World Tour being held in Rimini, Italy, this upcoming September (8th-10th), 2017.

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The Gelato World Tour has visited nine Gelato Capitals – Rome, Valencia, Melbourne, Dubai, Austin, Berlin, Rimini, Singapore and Tokyo. The Tour is directed by Carpigiani Gelato University, the world’s most renowned school for successful gelato entrepreneurs, and Sigep – Rimini Fiera, the world’s premier artisan gelato tradeshow.

I must confess that during that festival, being a Dietitian and an aficionado of moderate food consumption didn’t apply much… My taste buds were magically captivated and woven by unique flavors and combinations I was experiencing for the first time and at some point… I just couldn’t stop!

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Mandorle di Monteriggioni, ricotta azteca, curcuma, mango, vaniglia del Madagascar, fiori di sambuco… These are some of the multiple flavors i tasted and judged based on the presentation, taste and structure using an organoleptic evaluation for each gelato.

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Fiori di sambuco, torta bianca di reggio, crema di ricotta Azteca al bergamotto and crema catalana were my favorite selection.

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Fiori di sambuco means Elderflower in English and is a flower from Sambucus plant.Its peculiar yet delicious taste grabbed my attention and pushed me to research more about it…While elderflower is typically found to be safe for consumption, the leaves, twigs, and roots are toxic and can lead to the build up of poisonous cyanide in the body. Elderflower can be dried for later use or may be soaked or cooked down into a drink; actually the famous liqueur St.Germain is made from elderflowers!! And, apparently, Elderflower has been used in traditional medicine all over the world in many different cultures due to its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties.

If you’re puzzled and wondering what is exactly the difference between Gelato and Ice Cream, I’d like to share with you, what I learnt from my unforgettable visit to Carpigiani Gelato University’s headquarters in Bologna:

“Italian gelato contains less fat than ice cream, has less incorporated air, and is served at a higher temperature. Consequently, gelato provides a greater flavor experience because there is less fat that coats the taste buds, more flavor per spoonful (due to a lower quantity of air), and the taste buds are more alive since the temperature is not so cold as to dull their sensitivity. Not to mention fewer calories to burn!

Ice cream is made in large industrial batches, uses ingredients designed for lengthy storage, has limited flavors, and is stocked for sale in supermarkets. Authentic Italian gelato, on the other hand, is produced fresh practically every day in relatively small quantities, is sold directly to the public, and is available in a large number of flavors – usually based on fresh ingredients that make the gelato creamy and colorful.”
And surprisingly, while visiting the Gelato Museum that’s also located in the University’s headquarters in Bologna, I discovered that Gelato was historically the first food to be classified as an ambassador of Italian cuisine, long before pizza and spaghetti…

“It was invented in 1559 by the ingenious Florentine artist Bernardo Buontalenti, who at a banquet held at the Court of the Medici served the first cold cream made from milk, honey and egg yolk. It was a culinary triumph! At the time gelato was synonymous with the power, imagination and creativity of the noble kitchens. Something to amaze – and often intimidate – guests. From there gelato began to spread, first throughout Italy and then to France, taken there by Catherine de’ Medici.”

Today, going through my photo gallery and my memory banks brings back all those tastes and flavors with an accentuated “vanilla version” note of that unforgettable experience…  Ever since I was a little child, i believed that “Nothing in life is impossible” and here I am, today adding that quote i stumbled upon on my way back from the Festival, jogging in the heart of the most charming city in Italy with a large smile on my face, some extra calories in my tummy and tons of memories to carry through my lifetime…

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The Gelato World Tour’s next stop was held in Beirut one week later and I also took part of the jury! Read my next post to learn more about it.

Dietitian Nicole Maftoum

 

 

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