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Sorbet is a frozen dessert made from sweetened water flavored with fruit (typically juice or puree), wine, or liqueur. The origin of sorbet is variously explained as either a Roman invention, or a Middle Eastern drink charbet, made of sweetened fruit juice and water. Sorbet is sometimes served between courses as a way to cleanse the palate before the main course.

Sorbet is often confused with Italian ice and often taken to be the same as sherbet. Sorbets may also contain alcohol, which lowers the cold temperature, resulting in softer texture. In the UK, sherbet refers to a fizzy powder, and only the term sorbet would be used. Whereas ice cream is based on dairy products with air copiously whipped in, sorbet has neither, which makes for a dense and extremely flavorful product. Sorbet is served as a non-fat or low-fat alternative to ice cream. In Italy a similar though crunchier textured dish called granita is made. As the liquid in granita freezes it forms noticeably large-size crystals, which are left unstirred. Granita is also often sharded with a fork to give an even crunchier texture when served. Agraz is a type of sorbet, usually associated with the Maghreb and north Africa. It is made from almonds, verjuice, and sugar. It has a strongly acidic flavour, because of the verjuice.

One account says that Marco Polo brought a recipe for a sorbet-like dessert on his way back to Italy from China in the late 13th century, as written in an account of his journey, The Travels of Marco Polo. Other folklore holds that Nero, the Roman Emperor, invented sorbet during the first century A.D. when he had runners along the Appian way pass buckets of snow hand over hand from the mountains to his banquet hall where it was then mixed with honey and wine. Frozen desserts are believed to have been brought to France in 1533 by Catherine de' Medici when she left Italy to marry the Duke of Orleans, who later became Henry II of France. By the end of the 17th century, sorbet was served in the streets of Paris, and spread to England and the rest of Europe.

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