Dale F. Bentson, the restaurant reviewer for the PaloAltoOnline, praised the glories of gelato after a visit to Michael’s Gelato & Cafe on University Avenue in Palo Alto, California. Michael, the owner of the gelato palace, affirmed that his product reproduces the authentic flavors of Italian gelatos.
In his review of the gelato he tasted, Mr. Bentson writes that frozen desserts or ices are found throughout ancient civilizations, including among the people of the Old Testament. He writes: “The idea of frozen desserts dates back to the Old Testament when Isaac offered Abraham goat’s milk mixed with snow, telling him, Eat and drink: the sun is torrid and you can cool down.”
I have to confess that I did not know that Abraham loved ice cream, since this amusing story does not appear in the Old Testament. This story is one of those many legends that should have been included in Lois Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews. In all probability, this story may be one of the many stories the Rabbis loved to tell. One thing is sure: this story does not appear in the Old Testament.
The story of Isaac giving ice cream to Abraham may be touching, but there are two things I do not understand about the biblical ice cream. First, if the sun was torrid, where did Isaac find snow? And again, if the sun was torrid, how come the snow did not melt?
It is amazing what we can learn about the Old Testament when we read the newspaper.
NOTE: For several other studies on Abraham, read my post Studies on Abraham.
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary
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>I like the humor here. Maybe the people who argue God parted the Red Sea by literally freezing it could apply the same reasoning to this story and thus make plausible the existence of ice cream in the torrid sun.
>I agree with you. However, there are some people who cannot accept the fact that some of the views they take are completely contrary to reason.Thank you for visiting my web page.Claude Mariottini
>The saying that Abraham liked ice cream is amusing but it is absolutely possible. As a Middle Easterner it is possible on some days to have snow while the sun is shining and therefore to make ice cream by mixing snow with sweetened liquid. In fact, in Lebanon (where I live) you are able to ski and swim on the same day (only one driving hour).
>Dear Dr. Kassis,Thank you for your observation about the fact that in some places one can enjoy snow and sunny weather in the same day. This is a fact that can happen in some places, and as you mentioned, it happens in Lebanon.Isaac and Abraham settled in Beer-sheba, a dry, semi-desert region in the Negeb. What you mentioned, that one can enjoy snow and sunny weather in the same day, may happen in your country, but I doubt I would happen in Beer-sheba.Thank you for writing from Lebanon. Lebanon has a rich history and has left an important legacy in the history of the Ancient Near East. I hope you will visit my web page again. I welcome your comments.Claude Mariottini
This appears to be an Italian tradition on the origins of gelato – quite apart from the fact that the Romans were documented consumers. I found your site trying to trace the quote, and though I haven’t found the source (which may be any one of numerous retellings in the Italian language), I could back Dr Kassis on sorbets. Ever since temperatures were recorded, Beersheba has known record low Januaries with -5ºC/22.5F, although average low is 6ºC/43ºF. It’s not that hard to cover ground in Israel, either – you could drive around in the course of one day and bump all the five modern borders. (Something of a claustrophobic experience.) Canaa is a pleasant morning’s walk from Nazareth and Bethany is now inside Greater Jerusalem (where it’s snowed twice last year).
Thank you for this interesting information. I tend to agree that this may be an Italian tradition, but I found it very interesting.
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