Sorbet or not Sorbet – Lucy Moore has ice in her veins
Negri’s shop served the cutting edge in culinary fashion, as demonstrated in the shop’s name: pineapples were first tasted in Europe in the fifteenth century, but it wasn’t until the eighteenth century, about when Negri set up and named his shop, that hot house technology had advanced enough for them to be grown in England and sold – almost certainly in neighbouring Covent Garden market – as a highly desirable and expensive delicacy.
In 1777, Negri went into partnership with James Gunter, and by 1799 Gunter had become the shop’s sole proprietor. For the next century and a half, Gunter’s Tea Shop would be the place to order ices, cakes and confectionary for parties – they made the wedding cake for Queen Victoria’s granddaughter Louise when she married in 1889.
Gunter’s wasn’t the first place in England to make ice cream, but it was the most famous. Ice cream seems to have originated with the sherbets of the Ottoman empire and spread through the fifteenth century to Italy and thence to the royal courts of Europe. Charles I was said to love ice cream so much he offered his ice cream maker a lifetime pension to keep his recipe secret, and it was served to Charles II at a banquet in 1671 – but only on the monarch’s table.