Turkish ice cream (Turkish “dondurma”) is slightly different from the ice cream we know from Italy or the Czech Republic. The local ice cream is elastic and “chewy”, obtaining this property by using mastic resin. In addition to mastic, salep (powder from the root of an orchid) is often used in production, which further thickens the ice cream and gives it a smooth and creamy consistency.
A unique aspect of Turkish ice cream is the way it is sold. Street vendors, known as “dondurmacı”, are often seen stretching the ice cream and performing various tricks before serving it to customers. It’s an entertaining spectacle that you’ve probably seen in YouTube videos:
Ice cream sellers are often dressed in local costumes, scooping ice cream with long metal spoons. They attract passers-by by ringing a bell. The most common flavors are vanilla, strawberry, and chocolate, but there is also chocolate or a special version with rose petals.
When you are in Turkey, be sure to taste Turkish ice cream. You can expect a popular treat, but also an entertaining show that is hard to experience elsewhere.
If you are watching your budget, be sure to ask for the price of the ice cream in advance, preferably at the beginning of the entire sales show. The sellers try to sell the ice cream very actively. I paid 75 lira, or about 4 EUR, for three scoops of ice cream bought from a “real” Turk. This is a high amount for Turkey. But the show was great, and I was satisfied.
Accommodation in Istanbul
I wholeheartedly endorse the Mest Hotel located directly in the heart of Istanbul. The hotel is elegantly renovated, the breakfasts are incredible and the views are spectacular. I last stayed here in the fall of 2022 and will definitely be back again.