"Brief history of Turkish Ice Cream" Part 1

The origin of the ice cream is unknown. The first written account of ice cream dates back more than three thousand years ago and has its seedbed in the East. Some stories think that the Chinese were their inventors, others that the Babylonians, or perhaps the Mongols, and after from some of these cultures passed to India, to the Persians, and then to Greece and Rome. This "primitive ice cream" was not originally a dairy product, but a fruit-product. However, dairy products began to be used in small proportions and then massively, to such point that today milk and cream are basic constituents in this product.

According to some authors, the Chinese elite enjoyed an iced dessert, believed to be a frozen syrup, mixing the snow from the mountains with honey and fruit. They also used to prepare a paste of rice milk mixed with snow, something similar to current scraping. In the collection of old traditional Chinese songs Schi-king, published in China around the 11th century BC, is told about the storage of ice for the summer months in special cellars. Also, an ancient source alluding to the refreshing action of snow at harvest time is in the Proverbs of King Solomon (King of Israel and Judea, approximately from 960 to 925 BC), it is believed that this has to do with some kind of product consumed by farmers during the hottest hours of the day.

On the other hand, in the Babylonian courts, much before the Christian era, contests were already being held to produce iced or chilled drinks with snow or ice.

This can be taken as an important event in the history of ice cream. The Persians (successors to the Empire Babylonian) mastered the technique of storing ice inside large, naturally cooled refrigerators.

Marco Polo told about a discovery that he was very interesting in: it was a very high conical construction (about eighteen meters) on the outskirts of Kerman: a natural refrigerator called Yakhchal.

These warehouses kept the ice collected during the winter or brought from the mountains during the summer. They were used in the cities of the deserts of Persia since the 5th century B.C.

It is believed that from China, through trade routes, were introduced to the Persian Empire (which includes the countries currently known as Iran, Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, and parts of Western China and Northern Iraq) the recipes of the frozen desserts more than 2500 years ago. The Persians invented a dessert made of rose water and noodles (a cross between a sorbet and a rice pudding) called faludeh, around 400 B.C. and drank snow-cooled syrups called sherbets (from which emerged the derivation of sorbet and sorbetto). These desserts were prepared both by the caliphs of Baghdad in the 8th century, who mixed snow with fruit juices, as by their Arabian cooks, who were noted for refining the formulation, improving then quality. Currently, a sorbet is still made with rose water, lemons and thin wheat noodles.

Another story tells that the Arabs, in the centuries that dominated Sicily, they tried a mixture made with fruit juice, honey and snow collected from the Etna (active volcano of the east coast of Sicily), which they called sorbet. In addition, is also known than during the Middle Ages, this mix was prepared in the Arabs courts, where the Turks called it chorbet and the Arabs charat.

It should be noted that the consumption of these due to the difficulties in preparing them, was a privilege reserved only for the wealthy classes.

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Asier Trancho Bedoya


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