If you ever get bored of western-style soft-serve ice cream, then the Turkish variety will certainly be a new and entertaining experience for you! Dondurma is the name given to ice cream in Turkey, and this name literally means “freezing”. Dondurma typically includes milk, sugar, salep, and mastic. The thicker texture of Dondurma gives it considerable resistance to melting.
I learned that ice cream is not especially popular in Turkey, and is often only sold for the benefit of the tourists. In fact, some Turks adhere to a belief that cold foods, such as ice cream, will cause illnesses, such as sore throats and the flu. As such, it is held that consumption of warm liquid while consuming the ice cream will counteract these effects (ah, some Turkish tea? Just what I need!).
Dondurma is commonly sold from both street vendor’s carts and store fronts where the mixture is churned regularly with long-handled paddles to keep it workable. Cheeky vendors often tease the customer by serving the ice cream cone on a stick, and then taking away the dondurma with the stick and rotating it around, before finally giving it to the customer. I found this out to my cost at Clarke Quay in Singapore, where there is a native Turkish Ice Cream Man who trolls the Singaporeans on a daily basis!
When you come to Turkey, and Istanbul in particular, you will undoubtedly want to try some of the sweet treats on offer in the city. You can try the bistek embek, which is a kind of fish sandwich, the famous donor kebab, and perhaps even some Turkish Delight (although I am not a fan of these sweets). However, the main thing to experience when you are in Turkey is the delicious dondurma! You will not forget its texture and taste – not to mention the entertainment in watching the street vendors try to serve it to you!