Mongolia and Ice Cream: Who Knew?

by Shelli Stein

I was doing some research and reading about Mongolia and came upon a most startling fact. Did you know that Mongolian horsemen are alleged to have invented ice cream? They used to take cream in containers made from animal intestines for supplies during long journeys across the Gobi desert in winter. When they galloped, the cream was vigorously shaken, while it simultaneously froze in the sub-zero temperatures. The history of ice cream is fascinating!

This knowledge sent me dipping deep into a tub of ice cream to learn more. Yes, both literally and figuratively!

Un Altra Volta gelato

Dare I say the best gelato I’ve ever had!

I’ll admit to loving ice cream and being an ice cream snob. By that I mean I don’t eat just any ice cream. Sometimes there isn’t a local ice cream place in your town that you like. That’s when it’s fun to turn ice cream exploring into a travel adventure. I’ve said often enough that taking a love (some might call it a vice) such as ice cream or coffee or tea as exploration themes when visiting a destination is a fun focus during travels.

And though I’m using the words ice cream, there is, as you likely know, a big difference between ice cream and gelato. Yes, I’m a gelato snob as well. Just writing the word gelato makes me think about booking a trip to Italy or Buenos Aires. Yup, Buenos Aires, though maybe not known for gelato, is a fantastic gelato city!

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Ah where was I? Yes, ice cream. There are so many kinds to go in search of. In its broadest sense the term ‘ice cream’ covers a wide range of different types of frozen dessert. The main ones are:

  • dairy ice cream – a frozen, aerated mixture of dairy ingredients, sugars and flavours.
  • non-dairy ice cream – made with milk proteins and vegetable fat.
  •  gelato – an Italian-style custard-based ice cream that contains egg yolks.
  •  frozen yoghurt – which may contain lactic acid organisms, or simply yoghurt flavour.
  • milk ice – similar to ice cream, but unaerated and containing less dairy fat.
  • sorbet – fruit based, aerated sugar syrup that contains neither fat nor milk.
  •  sherbet – similar to a sorbet, but containing some milk or cream.
  •  water ice – frozen sugar syrup with flavour and colour, such as an ‘ice lolly’.
  •  fruit ice – similar to water ice, but made with real fruit juice.

I’m only partial to what’s referred to as dairy ice cream and gelato, though.

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And yes I know the history of ice cream is filled with myths and stories. The story above about Mongolian horsemen is one such myth. We cannot be absolutely sure exactly who invented ice cream, or where and when.

Final Thoughts on The History of Ice Cream

Frankly, though I did go down a rabbit hole after researching Mongolia into learning more about ice cream, I don’t care who invented it. I’m just glad they did!

My curious nature wonders if others make certain foods or beverages a focus when traveling. Do you have special foods or beverages you enjoy sampling when you travel? Let me know!

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