The history of gelato has been told many times, and we can’t help echoing those who say it was born in Sicily, for our history was born there, too.
The story begins with snow and salt. It was the Arabs, in the 7th century, who began preserving foods, mostly fruit drinks, in bowls surrounded by salt and ice. Thus sorbetto was born, with snow from the Sicilian mountains and salt from the surrounding sea.
This story reaches its apotheosis in the 1500’s with new recipes highlighting new, exotic ingredients from faraway lands – fruits, herbs and spices, and cocoa.
In the late 1600’s, a Sicilian chef named Francesco Procopio de’ Coltelli created the first gelato as we know it today. His secret? He perfected a machine which his grandfather had invented to make and preserve gelato, perhaps all for the delight of his grandchildren. Armed with his device, Francesco set off for Paris where he opened his first gelateria, the Cafè Procope, in 1686. There begins the real History of Gelato.