That is not to say that gelato here is bad. It's wonderfully creamy and light and is an explosion of fresh flavor in your mouth, but the gelato shops that proliferate Town Center in Kansas City are just about as authentic as you can get without actually being in Italy. Gelato is a wonderful dessert and I have no problem eating it on a regular basis here, but if you can find a place that sells gelato in America, you'll have a pretty good idea of what I'm having here.
"Original" gelato is much like "original" ice cream in America: a vanilla cream. Since modern gelato (as opposed to the frozen ice desserts in ancient Rome) was perfected in Florence, the "original" flavor is called Florentinian cream. Fruit gelato, which is technically sorbet, is the next most common, and since they use fresh fruit, the gelato is always incredibly fresh and savory. That was a very strange way to describe a dessert item...
So while gelato has failed to impress me, the McDonald's here has gone above and beyond my expectations. I know, I know, what am I doing at a McDonald's when I have all this wonderful Italian food around me?
Well, my roommate and I had been walking around all day trying to buy our books for the semester, and we were tired and wanted something to drink. And there was a McDonald's close by, and we were willing to settle. Or at least I thought I would be settling.
My roommate, Mara (who's from Holland), declared we were going to buy milkshakes. I've never liked McDonald's shakes, due to the chalky taste (despite the absence of any chalk, clay, or other non-food ingredients that McDonald's food is accused of using in their products), and was skeptical at first. But Europeans hold their fast food to the same standards as their other food, and these milkshakes were actually milk, chocolate, and ice cream. I watched them make it right there, and was pleasantly surprised. The drink was delicious. And as I perused the rest of the menu, all of their food is made with fresh ingredients, and they use fresh mozzarella on their burgers and have gourmet salad bowls with freshly cut vegetables, and a trash incinerator. And the whole restaurant was decorated and dimly lit like an upscale American restaurant. I was very impressed.
The employees would come around and pick up your trash if you chose. My roommate said she usually takes her trash up herself (she's from Holland), I don't know why you wouldn't. I'M SO GLAD I TOOK MY TRASH UP. Instead of a trash can, it's an incinerator. The incinerator was AWESOME.
We also passed the Medici Palace today. I didn't get very good pictures of it, but I thought I'd upload one to give you an idea of what a fortress this place was. It has been converted into a series of galleries, and I'm planning on going in soon. Better pictures will be uploaded then.