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article imageWhy Libyans love ice cream suddenly

By Eileen Kersey     Jan 2, 2013 in Food
Tripoli - Libyan people were freed from an unelected regime by the 2011 revolution. Gelato or ice cream has suddenly become a newly found love, in post Gaddafi Libya, but why?
On October 20, 2011, Muammar Gaddafi, leader of Libya was caught and summarily executed. It was not quite an end to the Libyan people's Arab Spring revolution but a new dawn was around the corner.
Freedom from what had become a repressive regime brought about many changes, including a love affair with ice cream.
Before the 2011 revolution only a few ice cream shops were to be found in the Libyan capital Tripoli. Now there are many. The shops are called gelaterias and the ice cream which they sell is called gelato.
Modern ice cream in countries such as the UK tends to be a poor representative of this creamy dessert. It is often nothing more than highly whipped margarine. Little wonder most dieticians advise a limited intake of such ice cream. In order to purchase "real" ice cream many people would say you have to visit Italy. Now that claim could include Libya.
Gelato is traditional Italian ice cream and Libya was previously an Italian colony. Gelato is made from milk, cream and different sugars, with added ingredients such as fresh fruit and natural flavouring.
Under Gaddafi though trading was never easy. It is easier now to secure a street trading license in Libya than during the rule of Gaddafi. This change has led to ice cream vans trading on the streets. Most Libyans, it is reported, love to hear the jingles played by the vans as they ply their trade. During the summer of 2012 they became hugely popular.
Libyans who have visited Italy have returned home inspired by what they have seen and tasted in Italy. Ice cream entrepreneur and gelateria owner, Ms Ruweida al-Rayes, has said that gelaterias are popular as Libyans "love to eat, eat, eat, eat, eat - especially sweets".
Under the rule of Gaddafi running a business was not easy, especially for selling a "luxury" item such as gelato.
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