A Brief History of Frozen Desserts

Appears in
The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Cuisine

By French Culinary Institute

Published 2021

  • About
There are several styles of ices and ice creams, and several definitions, some of which overlap slightly, with differences between French, Italian, and American terminology. By general definition, we can say that all ices — milk-, cream-, or water-based — are made up of sugar and one or more of the following liquid ingredients: milk, cream, water, and sometimes whole or separated eggs.
Many myths exist regarding the origins of ices and ice creams. It has been said that Alexander the Great had a penchant for wine-flavored ices, that the Roman Emperor Nero served his guests the first sorbet consisting of fruits crushed with snow and honey, that Marco Polo observed the practice of ice cream making in China and brought the concept home to Europe, that Catherine de Medici brought the fashion of sorbets from Italy to France in 1533, that a servant to Charles the First of England created the first ice cream as we know it today. Interesting as these stories are, scholars cannot confirm that they have any basis in historical fact.