Renaissance – the triumph of gelato in the Palace (XVI century)

The Florentine Renaissance and gelato: legends and truths

Legend has it that fiordilatte gelato was invented by Ruggieri (chicken seller) in Florence and that followed Caterina de Medici to the French court in occasion of her wedding with Henry II. While no recipe of that gelato was ever found, what is certain is that, in Florence, very trendy “frozen treats” were produced. On the other hand, Ruggieri was found: his name was Cosimo Ruggieri and he was an alchemist and astrologist at the service of Caterina, surely capable – thanks to its knowledge of alchemy – to produce the cold necessary to freeze the mixtures.

 

The flowering of literate cooks

In the Palaces, a huge value was given to meals: kings, princes, popes would pamper, court and please cooks, stewards, carvers and whoever was capable of “working the frost”. It’s in this era that the gelato maker takes shape in the kitchens of the palaces. In Europe, particularly in Italy, many cook books are published. “Opera” by Bartolomeo Scappi, “Banquets” by Cristoforo di Messisbugo, “The Singular Doctrine” by the Florentine Domenico Romoli are true best sellers.

 

Even architects are dealing with gelato (XVII century)

Bernardo Buontalenti, architect, sculptor and ingenious inventor of self-propelled machines, is the giant among caterers in the Medicean Florence. The “candiero”, the frozen cream dessert made with sugar, milk, whipped cream, eggs and a bit of wine is attributed to him: a further fundamental step towards the modern gelato. The lexical codification of the word “gelato” will happen at a later stage and will define the products based on milk and whipped cream, with our without eggs.