Can gelati be considered an appropriate food for rowers? And what is it about Australian rowers and Italian ice cream? These are important questions.
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? We have been running rowing trips in Italy since 2013. On our first ever test tour to the region, our group undertook some very scientific research. We enjoyed gelati on days after we rowed, before we rowed and when we did not row at all. We tested multiple gelati providers. Our conclusion was that there definitely is an excellent connection between rowing well and eating a gelato. However, more research will be required. Perhaps on our Lago Maggiore trip this September? I am especially looking forward to verifying the findings on our Lago di Como & Lago di Garda trip in May 2022. In Desenzano del Garda there is gelaterio named Il Gelato dei Masters. How perfect is that for master rowers gelati research?
Until I can hold a gelato in my hand again in Italy, 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.
Perhaps the affinity for gelati is because the Australian national team has a training facility in Gavirate on Lake Varese 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. 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 not that far from Luino on Lago Maggiore where our tour ends. I think I will detour over there to check it out.