Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Before going to Turkey, I'd read about Orchid Ice Cream and was interested to try it.  They use salep, a  flour milled from the dried tubers of wild orchids as a thickening agent.  This makes for a different treat than we are accustomed to.  I was told that the "real Turkish ice cream" doesn't melt and must be eaten with a knife and fork.  I didn't try this, but the dondurma in Istanbul is interesting enough.
We stopped for a bite to eat in a restaurant in the Sultanamet section of Istanbul and were seated directly behind the ice cream stand out front.
Reaction to entertaining ice cream servers
We got to enjoy seeing the delight on the faces of kids as the servers stirred and stretched the ice cream in long ropes.  The thickening agents cause the ice cream to freeze hard if it is not mixed.  This makes for some pretty good street entertainment as they pull out the ice cream on the mixing paddle in a big glob and stretch it out to impossibly long strings.
After our snack, we went to the other side of the window to have a sample.  The servers are great showmen and getting an ice cream is as fun as eating it.  We pick our flavors and they are scooped into the cone in dainty scoops of chocolate, strawberry, pistachio and other flavors.  Then, the as the server hands you your cone and you reach out, it is suddenly up, down, closer or farther away than where you expect to reach for it.  This goes on for a bit until they finally take pity on the hungry customer and they let you snatch your cone.
Maybe this wasn't the "real dondurma"  but it was delicious and the show was definitely worth the price of admission.