In Italy, il giorno della festa degli innamorati or Valentine’s day is considered to be an imported American holiday.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t celebrated, particularly with chocolates, roses, or in this case, strawberry gelato.  Especially in the area where we have our cooking school, near Verona, the city of Romeo and Juliet, all expressions of love are observed and venerated.

Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous; and it pricks like thorn. William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 1.4

Juliet's balcony in Verona

In Italy, Valentine’s day is exclusively for lovers.  It isn’t a holiday where children give Valentine’s day cards to their classmates and teachers.  Rather, in some cities, there is a tradition of young unmarried girls getting up before dawn and believing that the first unmarried man they set their eyes on will become their beloved.

I’m fortunate that I’ve been married to my beloved for 13 years now.  Although we don’t always go out to dinner for Valentine’s day we usually do celebrate it, mostly as a family.

Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight!/ For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.”- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 1.5

We are the parents of two girls, so Valentine’s day has become a BIG deal in our house, and the day is all dressed up in pink, our youngest child, Michela’s, favorite color.  Recently, Giuliano has been traveling a lot, so for this Valentine’s day we will stay home and celebrate together as a family.  While we still haven’t completely figured out the menu, the dessert will be strawberry gelato.

Gabriella next to Juliet's statue in Verona

Gelato is a bit different from American ice cream.  It is made with less sugar and is often made with milk rather than cream.  It has a more intense flavor.  Italians like their flavors to “pop”, melon tastes like melon, not melon and cream.  In this case, the strawberry flavor is intensely delicious, perfect to cleanse one’s mouth for a more intimate Valentine’s Day celebration.

Good night, good night!  Parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, 2.2

Strawberry Gelato

© 2011 by Giuliano Hazan

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Total time from start to finish: about 1 hour

Makes about 1 quart

¾ pound fresh strawberries

¾ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup water

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

1.  Remove the stems and leaves from the berries and rinse in cold water.

2.  Place the berries and the sugar in a food processor and process until liquified.  Add the water and run the processor until all the ingredients are mixed together well.

3.  Whip the cream with a whisk until it begins to thicken and becomes the consistency of buttermilk.  Put the cream and the liquefied strawberries in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

4.  Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s directions.