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‘Eat Pray Love’ exalts purists’ gelato in Rome
ROME (AP) - Named for a saint and naturally tasting heavenly, San Crispino gelato already was a pass-the-word must for devotees of the Italian treat.
Then a Roman bus driver gave Elizabeth Gilbert the buzz _ “The Best Gelato In Rome” _ and San Crispino became enshrined in her how-I-found-the-real-me journey-memoir, “Eat Pray Love.” Fans have been making pilgrimages for melt-in-your-mouth inspiration ever since.
In the book that’s now become a movie Gilbert recounts her rapturous encounter, not once, but three times in one day, with the gelato. In a single, mouthwatering paragraph, she waxes enthusiastic about the flavors. First she had the honey and hazelnut combo, then she returned for a pairing of grapefruit and melon, and yet again for an exotic nightcap of cinnamon-ginger.
While playing just a bit part in the movie, gelato is getting a big boost from the film’s ads, with Julia Roberts, who plays Gilbert, with a puckish look on her face and a cup of (presumably) San Crispino ice cream in her hand as she sits on a stone bench in Piazza Navona.
Gelato worshippers intent on finding this Roman temple of gelato, however, don’t get much help from Gilbert. She doesn’t say just where she had her San Crispino gelato.
Did love-at-first-lick come on Via della Panettieria, a narrow street near Trevi Fountain?
Or at the San Crispino franchise _ horrors! yes, the “best” gelato in Rome is franchised _ on Piazza della Maddalena, a tiny square behind the Pantheon?
Or perhaps at the gelateria where the two brothers who founded San Crispino opened their first location, in 1992, on Via Acaia in the working class San Giovanni neighborhood?
Wherever Gilbert had her gelato epiphany, “we are happy we were cited in the book and especially that she liked our gelato,” Pasquale Alongi, one of the brothers, modestly said as lemons were squeezed for San Crispino’s “limone” gelato in the “laboratory” on Via Acaia.
Giuseppe Alongi said he and his brother set out to make gelato with “equilibrium” and create flavors that are not too sweet and with only natural ingredients.
Pasquale, a former law student, and Giuseppe, a former medical student, were inspired by the fresh-tasting pastry made by their mother from the South Tyrol region near Austria. Their father is from Sicily, also known for the freshest of ingredients, such as the pistachios from Bronte, a town on the slopes of the Etna volcano. They are the only pistachios the brothers consider good enough to use in San Crispino gelato.
“When we make lemon flavor, we use only good Amalfi lemons,” said Pasquale. “If we don’t find them, we do not make the lemon flavor.”
That would be a shame. San Crispino’s lemon gelato coats the tongue with silkiness bordering on sensual, yet presents enough pizazz to almost cause a pucker.
And there are no cones at San Crispino because, as Giuseppe explained it, cones are “contaminated” by greasing agents used in baking pans and thus shouldn’t come in contact with gelato.
“We lose 30 percent of our customers when we tell them we have no cones,” he said in his store near the Trevi Fountain.
By Tom Fitton
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