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Was There Ice Cream in Ancient Civilizations

FUN Trivia Quizzes powered by ABEAncient civilizations have served ice for cold foods for thousands of years. Mesopotamia has the earliest icehouses in existence, 4,000 years ago, beside the Euphrates River, where the wealthy stored items to keep them cold. The pharaohs of Egypt had ice shipped to them. 

In the fifth century BC, ancient Greeks sold snow cones mixed with honey and fruit in the markets of Athens. Persians, having mastered the storage of ice, ate chilled desserts well into summer.  Roman Emperor Nero (37-68) had ice brought from the mountains and combined with fruit toppings. These were some early chilled delicacies.

What do you know about ice cream in the ancient times?

True or False?

1. Ancient Persians mastered the technique of storing ice inside giant naturally-cooled refrigerators known as yakhchals.

2. In 400 BC, Persians invented a special chilled pudding-like dish, made of rose water and vermicelli which was served to royalty during summers.

3. In 62 AD, the Roman emperor Caesar Augusts sent slaves to the Apennine Mountains to collect snow to be flavored with honey and nuts.

4. Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat asserts in her History of Food, "the Americans may be credited with inventing a device to make sorbets and ice cream."

5. In the sixteenth century, the Mughal emperors used relays of horsemen to bring ice from the Hindu Kush to Delhi where it was used in fruit sorbets.

6. There is historical evidence to support these legends, which first appeared during the 19th century.

7. The first recipe for flavored ices in French appears in 1674.

Check Your Answers


Was There Ice Cream in Ancient Civilizations [Answers]

1. True. Ancient Persians mastered the technique of storing ice inside giant naturally-cooled refrigerators known as yakhchals. These structures kept ice brought in from the winter, or from nearby mountains, well into the summer. They worked by using tall windcatchers that kept the sub-level storage space at frigid temperatures.

2. True. In 400 BC, Persians invented a special chilled pudding-like dish, made of rose water and vermicelli which was served to royalty during summers. The ice was mixed with saffron, fruits, and various other flavors. The treat, widely made in Iran today, is called "faloodeh", and is made from starch (usually wheat), spun in a sieve-like machine which produces threads or drops of the batter, which are boiled in water. The mix is then frozen, and mixed with rose water and lemons, before serving.

3. False. In 62 AD, the Roman emperor Nero sent slaves to the Apennine Mountains to collect snow to be flavored with honey and nuts.

4. False. Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat asserts in her History of Food, "the Chinese may be credited with inventing a device to make sorbets and ice cream. They poured a mixture of snow and saltpeter over the exteriors of containers filled with syrup, for, in the same way as salt raises the boiling-point of water, it lowers the freezing-point to below zero." (Toussaint does not provide historical documentation for this.)

5. True. In the sixteenth century, the Mughal emperors used relays of horsemen to bring ice from the Hindu Kush to Delhi where it was used in fruit sorbets.

6. False. When Italian duchess Catherine de' Medici married the duc de Orleans in 1533, she is said to have brought with her Italian chefs who had recipes for flavored ices or sorbets and introduced them in France. One hundred years later, Charles I of England was supposedly so impressed by the "frozen snow" that he offered his own ice cream maker a lifetime pension in return for keeping the formula secret, so that ice cream could be a royal prerogative. There is, however, no historical evidence to support these legends, which first appeared during the 19th century.

7. True. The first recipe for flavored ices in French appears in 1674, in Nicholas Lemery's Recueil de curiositez rares et nouvelles de plus admirables effets de la nature. Recipes for sorbetti saw publication in the 1694 edition of Antonio Latini's Lo Scalco alla Moderna (The Modern Steward). Recipes for flavored ices begin to appear in Francoise Massialot's Nouvelle Instruction pour les Confitures, les Liqueurs, et les Fruits starting with the 1692 edition. Massialot's recipes result in a coarse, pebbly texture. However, Latini claims that the results of his recipes should have the fine consistency of sugar and snow.

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