Around the World in Icy Treats

As the days heat up, we begin the endless search for the next thing that can cool us off during the long days of summer. For some people, this means browsing through the stores at the mall to enjoy the air conditioning, while for others it means piling our glasses high with ice to keep our bodies cool. Regardless of which culture we come from, we can all agree that a sweet, icy treat at the end of a long, hot summer day is nothing short of miraculous.

In North America, ice cream is the clear winner — the average American consumes 23 pounds of ice cream per year — but there are tons of different options to be found in the different regions of the globe. Here are some you should definitely try on your next vacation.

Gelato

Even though gelato is simply the Italian word for ‘ice cream’, what we think of as gelato is quite different from standard North American ice cream. Like ice cream, Italian gelato is made with a base of milk, sugar, and cream, and is flavored with everything from fruit and nut purees to crushed cookies and candies. In Italy, gelato tastes so smooth and rich because it’s mixed in a way that incorporates less air into the batter. The most popular flavors of gelato in Italy are vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, and stracciatella — look for shops that have these flavors and a few others and avoid mediocre shops that advertise dozens and dozens of flavors.

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Kulfi

Although kulfi looks like ice cream, this Indian treat is made by cooking together sweetened condensed milk and milk flavored with additions like saffron, rose, mango, or pistachio until the mixture is quite thick. Then the mixture is poured into a mould and frozen. Unlike ice cream, kulfis are never churned, which result in a much thicker, denser dairy treat. Kulfi are popular throughout India and the Indian subcontinent, where they can be found being hawked on the street by professional kulfiwalas.

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