Dondurma, Dondurma

It was a late spring day and we’d expended ourselves biking around the Princes Islands, an idyllic little retreat for city dwellers that lie some 12 miles off the coast of Istanbul in the Sea of Marmara. Even just four days into our itinerary, the quiet, car-free island felt like a needed respite. But before hopping back on the ferry to head back home, we were lured over to Mr. Dondurma. With that bright smile and welcoming invite to satiate our sweet tooth, we soon found ourselves sampling the entire case of flavors, despite a ‘one taste only’ sign that hung from the stand.

Turkish ice cream is distinctly Turkish, that’s to say, it contains two unique ingredients that give it a completely different taste and feel to what the American palate is used to. My tongue could feel the difference but couldn’t quite distinguish the mystery ingredients: mastic and salep. Mastic is resin from the pine tree that makes the ice cream mildly chewy, almost like a loose taffy. Then comes the salep, a flour derived from early purple orchid (a starch) that gives the ice cream pliability similar to sculpting clay. And that is what turns it into a game of play. The Mr. Dondurmas play with this strange stuff all day long, churning it in its tub, poking it with big scooping sticks, pulling it out in one giant non-melting mass for the spectator to see. The show goes on for as long as you’re willing to watch. And while I found that dondurma didn’t really suit my fancy, I must say that for the few lira you pay, the serving spectacle is quite the treat.

(I’d choose the pomegranate sorbet -pictured here- over dondurma any day!)

Day 7 of 30: Postcards from Turkey

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~ by maureenmoore on July 15, 2013.

2 Responses to “Dondurma, Dondurma”

  1. but you didn’t mention how cute the Dondurma boys usually are–dressed in their faux Ottoman costumes.

  2. haha, i have to keep SOME secrets 😉

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