"Brief History of Turkish Ice Cream" Part 2
Continuing with Marco Polo, in 1292, he returned to Venice after spending more than twenty years in Asia. Among many things, the explorer brought as a gift of the Mongolian prince Kublai Khan a recipe for the manufacture of frozen goods. It is also said that his stories indicated that in China it was consumed, from 3000 years ago, in the warm months of the year, a kind of ice cream made with ice, milk, and fruit juices fruits. This would support the idea that it was the Chinese who invented ice cream. However, there is no mention of ice cream in any of the manuscripts describing Marco Polo's travels. Even modern historians doubt that the famous traveler will arrive in China. It is confusing to know which way the ice cream came into Europe, in any case, at the beginning of the Modern Age these appear for the first time in Italy, from where they set out to conquer the world.
Subsequently, new ingredients were introduced (with dairy products beginning to predominate over fruit extracts), different production techniques and types of this delicious and refreshing food were developed. All of them still rooted in their aforementioned ancestors. Today, Turkish Ice Cream or Maraş Dondurması is world-famous, not only for its texture and taste but also for the way it is served. The ice cream gets its name from the famous town of Kahramanmaraş, also known as Maraş, which is found at the foot of Ahir Mountain, in southern Turkey. This famous city has been producing its famous dessert for over 150 years.
The word dondurma literally means frozen. So, it is Maraş Dondurması that Turks say is the best ice cream. It is also known as Dövme dondurma, this name comes from the verb dövmek (to stick) and means stuck because traditionally this ice cream was prepared by sticking the milk and other ingredients together with a wooden or metal stick.
The history of ice cream in this area began when the people of Anatolia mixed molasses and fruit extracts with untouched snow accumulating on the slopes of the mountain, to create the first form of ice cream (same practice as we mentioned before) Today, the secret to Maraş Dondurması still lies in the special natural ingredients, which are found on Ahir Mountain:
- Sahlep, which is the root of a wild orchid native of this mountain region, This word originally came from an Arabic phrase meaning "fox's testicles", contains a type of starch that gives the dondurma a particularly elastic consistency, allowing the ice cream to stretch like a rubber band.
- Mastic, also known as Arabic gum, a resin that imparts chewiness. These two ingredients make Maraş Dondurması different from any other ice cream in the world, giving it its incredible flavor, texture, and resistance to melting.
- And of course, we can not forget goat's milk, specifically from this región. All these ingredients are combined and then hand-churned to perfection with patience as old Turkish tradition.
Last but not least, what makes Maraş Dondurması special and popular is the “show” around it: The salesmen wear regional dress costumes from Kahramanmaraş and depending on their mood and the customer, it will most likely be a while until you get your order. Vendors serve the ice cream cone on a stick and then take it away as soon as the customer tries to grab it by rotating it around, tossing it in the air, and making it disappear, before finally giving it to the customer. This performance is all in good favor of fun and tradition and the games are put on just to test and prove how truly remarkable and strong Maraş Dondurması is.
So you must be fast if you really want your ice cream!
Asier Trancho Bedoya