Did you know gelato was invented in Sicily?
In ancient times, the only solution to find respite from the sweltering heat of summer, was refrigerating fruit, milk and honey. Later, at the end of the 9th century, Arabs found the solution to sweeten ice in the island of Sicily: sugar cane! In 1686 Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, a Sicilian chef, managed to devise the perfect mix for creating gelato, inventing a special machine employed successfully in his Café Procope in Paris, where his “frozen waters” – modern day granita and sorbet – attracted the interest of intellectuals like Voltaire, George Sand, Balzac, Victor Hugo, Diderot, Doctor Guillotin, and some say even Napoleon Bonaparte.
It’s no surprise then, that Sicilians to this day are masters of gelato. A new Sicilian gelateria in my neighborhood proves this true every time I visit.
Originally from Siracusa, Bel Bon was born in 1992 with the desire to bring back old forgotten, seasonal flavors and traditional production methods. The gelato produced in both the Sicily branch and the one conveniently one block from my apartment is still made without artificial flavors and additives, uses strictly natural products like fresh milk from Sicilian pastures, pistachio nuts from Bronte, prized “pizzute” almonds from Avola, and the IGP “Femminello” lemon variety from Siracusa.
Favorite flavors, beyond the pure ones mentioned above, are extra-noir chocolate, ricotta and figs, hazelnut, tiramisu, assorted citrus, cinnamon, coffee, and the stellar cannoli flavor. Other delights include homemade gelato sandwiches, chocolate dipped “moretti” cones, and gelato cakes for impressive birthdays.