To my son’s absolute delight on our fifth day in Istanbul we went back to the biggest of the Princes’ Islands – Büyükada. Fabulous, because this time everything was familiar. We knew what to expect. We took the ferry from the mainland and knew exactly which of the smaller boats to take to the private beach once we got to Büyükada.
After a wonderful day of swimming and relaxing in the sea, we came back to the island and were not yet ready for our apartment in Istanbul, so we wandered around a bit while enjoying ice-creams.
Ice cream in Turkey is known as dondurma and particularly in Istanbul, the traditional Maraş (region) ice cream is sold by vendors who wear beautiful regional dress costumes. This kind of ice cream typically includes milk, sugar, salep (a type of wild orchid which acts as a thickening agent) and mastic (a bit like resin from the bark of a specific tree). And indeed the ice cream is much more chewy and sticky. It also doesn’t melt as easily which is just as well when the temperatures are high. Vendors are very friendly and would either sell their ice cream from a cart on the street or from the front of a store.
The ice cream mixture is churned regularly with long-handled paddles to keep it workable and the vendors would often tease the customer when giving the cone by taking it away as soon as the customer tries to get it and rotating it before finally dipping it in a bowl of nuts (or not – depending if the customer wants it) and eventually giving it to the customer. Or they would show off by picking up a big piece of ice cream with the paddle and letting it hang from the paddle, swinging it or just manipulating the piece.
“I would really laugh if he drops that now…” was a comment from one of our daughters while we were watching one of these vendors working their tricks.
They taste absolutely lovely and are very addictive, especially the one with pistachio nuts.