Can gelati be considered an appropriate food for rowers? And what is it about Australian rowers and Italian ice cream? These are important questions with the World Masters Games in Torino just wrapping up, and the FISA World Masters Regatta less than a month away in Varese.
Gelati (singular is gelato, but we are not talking about just one) is that wonderful Italian ice cream, rich in flavours of fruits, nuts, chocolate and temptingly displayed in gelaterie across Italy, the Italian speaking part of Switzerland and Italian neighbourhoods around the world. A warm and sunny Sunday will see lines snaking down streets and everyone seems to be enjoying a cup or a cone.
We know it tastes good, but how good is it for rowers? During the Italian & Swiss Lakes Rowing trip in April, the weather was warm enough to inspire us to sample gelati in Como, Lugano and Stressa (the latter is not on the tour, but we were there too). We enjoyed it on days after we rowed, before we rowed and when we did not row at all. Our conclusion was that there definitely is an excellent connection between rowing well and eating a gelato. However, more research will be required during the trips this September and October to verify the findings.
In the interim, I did a little internet analysis. This is where the fixation by Australian rowers with gelati became apparent. Virtually every one of the first 20 results that came up from a Google search of “gelati + rowing” was by or about an Australian! In several profiles of racers, gelati was mentioned as a favourite food. Apparently the Sydney Rowing Club is close to Pure Gelato in Croydon Park. When I Googled “sport nutrition + gelati” the first result was a recipe from the Australian Institute of Sport (http://www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition/recipes/survival_around_the_world/italy2/lemon_gelati).
Perhaps the affinity for gelati is because the Australian national team has a training facility in Gavirate on Lake Varese (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9yLlgg5XEc) and rowers spend a lot of time there working up an appetite? In fact, in a blog post from his training days, Drew Ginn claims that the best gelati in the world could be there, and that thought leads him to think about what constitutes the best for training and preparation (http://drewginn.blogspot.ca/2007/08/best-gelati-in-world-perfect-way-to.html). This man has won three Olympic golds and a silver. He knows what he is talking about when it comes to rowing, so I trust his judgement in gelati. Gavirate is just down the road from the site of the FISA World Masters in Varese. I think I will detour over there to check it out.