It is unclear how ice-cream came about. We are sure that in 500 b.C. the Chinese knew how to preserve ice to use it during the summer months.

The Romans, Babionians, Egyptians and Arabs all had the habit of cooling fruit juices during summer months. Plinio the Old describes the habit of the Romans to mix crushed ice with fruit juice and honey which were all blended in a sort of frozen cream.

In Sicily the Arabs used to mix the snow from Mount Etna with fruit juices thus creating a conconction called "sharbath" which can be considered the forefather of modern ice-cream.

But it was the Italians who, in recent times, became the true inventors of modern ice-cream exporting this peculiar product throughout Europe.

In 1565 Cosimo I de' Medici organised a banquet in Florence and, among other dishes, ice-cream was served.

In 1686 Francesco Procopio de' Coltelli opened a cafe in Paris and obtained an exclusive pantent from Louis XIV. Napoleon, Voltaire, George Sand, Balzac and Victor Hugo were customers at Cafe' Procope.

Ice-cream was later exported in London by the Venetian Sartelli, whilst the Italian specialty was introduced in the USA by Giovanni Bosisio in 1770. The Americans, though, claim the moral victory of introducing in 1904 the "cone" which has become, since then, associated with ice-cream.

Ice Cream Recipe
(4-6 persons)

300 ml of milk
1 vanilla pod, split
3 egg yolks
50-75 gr caster sugar
300 ml of double cream

Pour the milk into a heavy-based soucepan, add the vanilla pod and heat slowly until almost boiling. Take off the heat, then leave to infuse for about 20 min. Remove the vanilla pod

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl until thick and creamy. Gradually whisk in the hot milk, then strain back into the pan. Cook over a slow heat, stirring constantly, until thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon; do not allow to boil. Pour into a chilled bowl and allow to cool.

Whisk the cream into the cold custard until evenly blended.

Pour into an ice-cream maker and churn until frozen. Alternatively freeze in a shallow container whisking 2 or 3 times during freezing to break down the ice crystal and ensure an even-textured result. Allow the ice cream to soften slightly at room temperature before serving.

Fruit Ice cream: add 300 ml fruit puree, sweetened to taste, to the cooled custartd

Chocolate Ice cream: omit the vanilla pod. Add 125 gr of 50%-70% chocolate to the milk nad heat gently until melted, then briging almost to the boil and continue as above.

Coffee Ice Cream: omit the vanilla pod. Add 150 ml (1/4 pint) freshly made strong cooled coffee to the cooled custard, or 10 ml istant coffee granules to the hot milk, stirring to dissolve.