In which I prove that too much gelato is in fact a bad thing… (I was shocked too).
When the Emilia-Romagna Tourism folks invited us to spend a day at Gelato University I was, as you can imagine, beside myself. I had no idea what Gelato University actually was but I knew if it involved gelato I was fully on board.
Bright and early Wednesday morning we took a local bus to the outskirts of Bologna and the Carpigiani factory. As one of the leading makers of gelato machinery in the world, the company brilliantly started the Gelato University as a way to train potential customers in the making of gelato and the use of their equipment. They offer a variety of 2-3 week courses at different levels of difficulty. Lucky for us we were sitting in on the beginner course.
It turns out, not that surprisingly I guess, that making gelato is hard. We sat in the back of the classroom watching the teacher (a local gelato shop artisan) lecture on the science behind gelato making. I wondered when we would get to taste some of the good stuff and tried to pay attention while the students around me took vigorous notes.
So who goes to Gelato University? It turns out all sorts of people. As we sampled yesterdays creations (pistachio, dark chocolate, lemon cream), I chatted with some of the students. Among them: A couple from the Philippines researching how to start their own shop (gelato is very popular in the Philippines apparently), two chefs from Norway, a world traveler from Colombia on a career break, a young guy from Dubai who just wanted to learn a new skill and a Lebanese woman considering a career change. Everyone was chipper and eager to learn despite the surprising volume of math involved.
During the lunch break a representative from the company showed us around the Gelato museum, which is dedicated to the history of gelato and gelato-making from the early hand cranks to the modern machines produced by Carpigiani. We also stopped by the cafe and gelato testing center, where top Gelato chefs were experimenting with new flavors.
You know what that means. Sample time:
By now I was feeling pretty full from the 5 or 6 different cups of gelato I had already had. But we couldn’t quite yet: the afternoon session of Gelato U was the kitchen session.
The class split up into groups of 3 or 4 and each received a recipe. Today’s focus was on straciatella- cream flavored gelato with chunks of chocolate mixed in, which just so happens to be my very favorite flavor. The kitchen was a flurry of rushing students, mixing bowls, whirring machines and quiet debates on the best way to mix chocolate. I was so impressed- these people had only been in class for three days and they already basically knew how to make gelato.
It tasted pretty great too. The students lined up about a dozen different finished straciatellas for tasting. After the fourth or fifth one though, I started to feel a bit woozy. My head was pounding- too much sugar maybe? And my stomach felt…weird. “I think I might have overdone it,” I whispered to Mike. He nodded weakly a grimace on his face. The students still had another couple of hours of lecturing ahead of them but we decided our time at Gelato university was over.
After a nauseous bus ride back to central bologna we collapsed on our giant bed and fell into some sort of ice cream coma, only to be awoken several hours later by my friend calling to take us to dinner. Damn our lack of self control.
How do the students at gelato university maintain the self-control to not gorge themselves to death? How do gelato shop OWNERS manage it? I have no idea but I know now I could never be one.
So yes, I do love gelato, but I think I’m content to enjoy it as an amateur-not a professional!
We visited Bologna as guests of the Emilia-Romagna Tourism Board. All gluttinous opinions are my own.