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Ice Cream's Asia Minor Roots

Ice Cream's Asia Minor Roots

Ice cream merchant, Constantinople, Turkey, 1898 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Ice cream merchant, Constantinople, Turkey, 1898 (Courtesy of the Library of Congress)

Dondurma dressed with Turkish Delight

Dondurma dressed with Turkish Delight

In celebration of ice cream month, let’s delve deep into some of the history of this frozen delight. The Turkish have been making ice cream for some 300 years. Called dondurma in Turkey, it's made from milk, sugar, and thickening agent called salep which is flour made from the root of the Early Purple Orchid which blossoms in the spring. Salep is native to Asia Minor but can be found in India and Germany. The recipe also includes mastic which gives the ice cream a unique chewy and delightful texture. Turkish ice cream takes hours to make and it contains the medicinal quality of improving gastro-intestinal problems. It has a much lower melting point than North American style ice cream and it’s traditionally eaten with a knife and fork; although cones are popular too.  It's sold in store fronts, on street carts, and by street vendors like the one in the image above. As advertisement street venders cry out phrases such as “ICE CREAM Ice cream, ice cream that sends you to the Heaven! Ice cream, the herald of spring has come!” As the YouTube link below illustrates, ice cream venders in Turkey play a game of catch it if you can as they mix and scoop the ice cream with a special long utensil. This is a surprise to most tourists and something you have to see for yourself!

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