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At a stretch – Turkish icecream

2

Mar

At a stretch – Turkish icecream

In Turkey, when you a buy a fridge, they don’t tell you how many liters it holds. Instead, they tell you how much icecream it can store. Not just any icecream though. Called dondurma, literally meaning ‘freezing’ in Turkish, Turkish icecream is made with two magic ingredients, mastic and sahlep, and Kahramanmahraş, in Eastern Turkey, is where the best icecream comes from.

I went to Kahramanmahraş on a tour with fifty-two university students and five teachers, of whom I was one. It was four days and three nights of singing, dancing and eating on about twelve hours sleep in total. We ate at every opportunity, and when the bus came to a stop at three in the morning naturally we were outside an icecream shop. On the point of closing for the night, the shutter was immediately rolled back up as we piled eagerly out of the bus. A man dressed in traditional black baggy trousers, a colorful sash that matched his waistcoat and a fez, came outside and stood in front of a large barrel. He started to mix the icecream inside it with a large wooden paddle. When it was ready he smeared it on cones for us to eat. He offered one to a student. Once it was in her hand, the man snatched away the paddle, taking the icecream with it. The mastic in the icecream is a natural gum giving Turkish icecream its unique chewiness. Sahlep, a type of flour made from orchids, adds the irresistible texture.

On our way back through the same town we had more icecream. This time it was served in slices sprinkled with pistachios and we ate it the traditional way. With knives and forks. We were in Yaşar Pastanesi, a shop established about sixty years ago. Although it was once again three in the morning we met the owner, who still worked eighteen hours a day. Which is lucky for icecream lovers, because this is where the famous Mado icecream originates from. You can find Mado cafes all over the country so there’s no need to travel as far Kahramanmahraş for a real Turkish icecream. However you’ll have a great time if you do.

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Lisa Morrow

Lisa
Lisa Morrow has travelled extensively throughout Turkey and lives with her husband on the Asian side of Istanbul. She has written two essay collections, Inside Out In Istanbul: Making Sense of the City and Exploring Turkish Landscapes: Crossing Inner Boundaries.

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