Tag Archives: ice cream a global history

Scary Stuff About Ice Cream on Halloween

Yes, ice cream has its scary side. Like poison ice cream cones. Like contaminated street cart ice cream.

I talked on Halloween to gluten-free guru Jean Layton about ice cream’s underbelly, plus some ice cream history I unearthed in my book, Ice Cream: A Global History.

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Get the Scoop at New Amsterdam Market’s Ice Cream Fest and Book Signing

From Ice Cream: A Global History (Reaktion Books) by Laura B. Weiss. Photo: Image Source/Rex Features.

Ice Cream Fanatics: The New Amsterdam Market’s 3rd Annual Ice Cream Sunday is Aug. 19. If you’re in NYC, stop by for ice cream from some great purveyors—plus, I’ll be signing (and selling) copies of my book, Ice Cream: A Global History.

The event’s from 12pm-4pm. I’ll be perched in a booth amongst the ice cream folks signing books from 1:30pm-3:30pm. Probably won’t have a whole lot of time to sample the ice cream. So…I hope someone brings me a few tastes.

Here’s who’s scooping and the scoop on tickets, hours, etc.

Gabrielle Carbone of THE BENT SPOON

Joseph Roselli of DREAM SCOOPS


Tracy Obolsky of ESCA


Ashley Whitmore of MARLOW & SONS

Fany Gerson of LA NEWYORKINA

Catherine Oddenino of LUCA & BOSCO

James Distefano of ROUGE TOMATE

Forbes Fisher of STEVE’S ICE CREAM



EARLY BIRD ADMISSION $30 - Starts 12pm

(10 Tasting Tickets, redeem for 10 miniature cones)

GENERAL ADMISSION $20 - Starts 1pm

(8 Tasting Tickets, redeem for 8 miniature cones)

At the door: $35 for Early Bird and $25 for General Admission


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Upper West Side: All About Screme Gelato

A rainbow of gelato flavors in a Rome gelateria. Photo: Susan Toth.

Screme Gelato, which hails from Israel, typifies the globalization of the popular Italian variety of ice cream. With two shops on the Upper West Side and others elsewhere in the city, Screme is making inroads all over the city. And its story was featured in Ice Cream: A Global History (Reaktion Books).

The book, a look at ice cream’s vibrant history worldwide, uses Screme as an example of gelato’s growing worldwide appeal.  Gelato was once made almost exclusively in Italy by family-owned concerns. These days, gelato has gone corporate. Large companies making bases and flavors supply gelato makers worldwide. What’s more, anyone can be a gelato maker these days—even Israelis who adore ice cream of all types, and local influences are creeping into gelato. Sometimes variants-from Cookies and Cream to Peanut Butter, are supplanting traditional flavors like chocolate and pistachio.

Here’s the excerpt from Ice Cream: A Global History (by yours truly):

In the summer of 2009, a new brand of gelato arrived in New York. In a bustling metropolis with thousands of outlets dishingup every ice cream variety imaginable – from classic vanilla to offbeat concoctions like bacon and egg – the debut of yet another ice cream purveyor caused barely a stir among the city’s ice cream aficionados.

But Screme gelato boasted a unique pedigree. The gelato maker hailed neither from Milan nor Rome, but rather from a country – Israel – far removedbfrom the hallowed traditions of Italian gelato making. In Israel, Screme (known as Aldo’s) had assembled more than 50 outlets. Though launched by an Italian gelato maker in 1993 Screme was soon taken over by a group of Israeli businessmen, who quickly rolled out flavours like halva and lemon to suit local tastes. When Screme opened its New York outlets, it took its ice cream in yet another direction, fashioning flavours like Captain Crunch, Reese’s Peanut Butter andKey Lime Vodka – tastes that were specifically engineered to appeal to American sensibilities.

‘The Italians are locked into standard flavors’, Screme’s owner Yona Levy maintains. Levy hasn’t hesitated to aggressively shunt aside centuries-old gelato traditions to create his unique kosher and organic offerings. In fact, it’s safe to say that Screme’s gelato variant – not to mention its rotating menu of more than 5,000 flavours – would utterly confound Italian ice cream traditionalists.

But Screme’s heterodoxy is not unusual. Around the world – from Berlin to Kansas City – globalization has transformed the Italian classic into a frozen dessert that more often than not barely resembles the traditional version. In fact, it could be asked: is today’s globalized version of gelato even Italian – or has it been reimagined into an entirely new, universal ice cream type?

Screme Gelato

2030 Broadway (between 69th and 70th Streets)

(212) 362-2111


176 West 94th Street

(corner 94th Street & Amsterdam)

(212) 663-1362


Screme @ Verdi Square @72nd Street

Coming soon.


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An All Ice Cream Dinner June 6 in New York

Ice Cream Cones. Photo: Roger Smith Hotel

NEW UPDATE: The New York Times, June 1, 2011:

Five-Course Dessert

Ice cream from soup to nuts will be featured at a five-course dinner on Monday from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Roger Smith Hotel…. Click here to read more.

UPDATE: Carolina M Capehart of Historic Cookery will be making ice cream the old fashioned way at the dinner. Samples will be available for tasting!

If you’re food fantasy is an all ice cream dinner, then this event may be for you. Yours truly, an Upper West Side author, will also be speaking about ice cream around the world.  Here are the details and the menu:

Ice Cream: Edible Conversations at the Roger Smith Hotel

Where: 501 Lexington Avenue, New York; 212 838 0844

When: June 6th, 2011 6-8:30pm

What: From Tallahassee to Tokyo: The Scoop on Ice Cream’s Global Allure

Speaker: Laura Weiss, Upper West Side author.

How much? Tickets: $45 for an ice cream based dinner and talk. Reserve a seat: icecreamglobal.eventbrite.com

Almost All Ice Cream Dinner Menu (tentative)


Marinated Olives

House roasted nuts


Guinness float

Smoked salmon tartar on crostini with horseradish ice cream and chives

First Course

Chilled Green Pea Soup with Yogurt Ice Cream

Second Course

Beet Carpaccio with Goat Cheese Ice Cream

Third Course

Seafood ceviche with Cilantro lime sorbet

Fourth Course

Venison loin, fingerling potatoes, grilled asparagus, lingonberry demi glaze ice cream

Fifth Course

Dark Chocolate gelato with sea salt, caramel, broken pretzels

Daniel B. Mowles

Executive Chef

Roger Smith Hotel


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Read an Excerpt: Ice Cream: A Global History, Published Today

Child with Ice Cream cone. Photo: Laura B. Weiss

My new book, Ice Cream: A Global History, (Reaktion Books), is being published today, April 1. It’s a fun trip around the word of ice cream. Readers journey from ancient China where ice cream was concocted with dragon eyeballs and camphor to modern-day Turkey where ice cream vendors still make a frozen dessert that’s so thick it requires a knife and fork to eat.

Click here to order Ice Cream: A Global History.

Here’s an excerpt from the Introduction:

Everyone Loves Ice Cream
I scream, you scream,
we all scream for ice cream!
Howard Johnson, Billy Moll and Robert King.

It’s called gelato in Italy, glace in France and morozhenoe in Russia. From Tokyo to Turin, from Denver to Delhi, everyone loves ice cream. With the possible exception of romance–‘Your love is better than ice cream’, singer Sarah McLachlan has crooned – there are few of life’s pleasures, culinary or otherwise, that can match ice cream’s potent allure.

What accounts for the sweet frozen treat’s irresistible appeal?

First, ice cream is just plain delectable. Composed of cream or milk, sweeteners and flavorings, which are churned and frozen, ice cream boasts an icy sumptuousness. What’s more, ice cream packs an emotional wallop. Stoking the pleasure-producing regions of the brain, ice cream is known for its ability to generate feelings of well-being,

‘It’s amazing how quickly you recover from misery when someone offers you ice cream’, marvelled teenager Eugene Jerome in Brighton Beach Memoirs, American playwright Neil Simon’s coming-of-age play.

Of course, ice cream tantalizes the taste buds and delights the eye. There’s the frothy ice cream soda sipped through a straw at the neighborhood soda fountain. There’s the luxurious taste of a gelato-topped cone, relished while strolling through the streets of Rome. There are the Indian kulfi walas hawking cardamom-perfumed kulfi on the streets of Delhi and Mumbai….

As befits a food so strongly identified with fun, the story of ice cream is a lively one. It’s a movable feast peppered with Chinese emperors and English kings, former slaves, women inventors, shrewd businessmen, Italian immigrant hokey pokey ice cream vendors, a gourmand First Lady, health food advocates, temperance apostles and modern-day food snobs.

Though the Chinese are said to have been the first to fashion a dairy-like frozen dessert, ice cream as we now know it was initially formulated in Europe, principally in Italy, but also in France, England and other parts of the Continent.

Ice cream then traveled across the Atlantic to America. In fact, Americans like to claim ice cream as their national dessert, conferring upon it a status rivaling the mythic apple pie…..

Despite the sizable American influence, indigenous ice cream cultures flourish worldwide. For example, Italian gelato is prized by ice cream connoisseurs everywhere. In Turkey and parts of the Middle East, salepi dondurma, an ice cream enhanced with orchid root, continues to flourish.

Still today, national ice cream traditions are fading, blending into a universal version of what once was a distinctive
local dessert….

Even gelato, that supposedly sacrosanct Italian ice cream, has been transformed (corrupted, some might say) by outside influences. There’s now green tea and cheddar cheese gelato being served from Des Moines to Delhi. In Italy, sampled flavors like ginger and spicy Aztec chocolate, some clearly not handmade and displaying flavor notes culled from regions far beyond Florence and Rome.

In fact some might ask at this point: is gelato even Italian any more?

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