Since ancient times the people of Anatolia kept the winter snow from melting by storing it in mountain crevices which they covered with twigs. Come summer, they brought it up from its storage place, put it in bowls used for stewed fruit and, drizzling it with molasses, ate it. This sweet, which was called ‘karsambac’, is regarded as the ancestor of today’s ice cream. With the entry of sugar into everyday life, fruit juices and syrups were also made and stored for consumption in winter. And they too were poured over ice cream and eaten with gusto. Fresh snow with molasses is still consumed in some parts of Anatolia today. Many fruit flavored ice creams do not in fact contain cream or milk but are fruit sherbets. Then there are ice creams made from yogurt. But the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of ice cream in Turkey is the ‘beaten’ ice cream of Kahramanmaras. Not easily melted and with a consistency like taffy, it is like nothing else in the world, unique to Turkey alone... Maras ice cream, which is hung on a butcher’s hook and cut with a knife, is believed to have been made since the 18th century. And its most outstanding ingredient, which enhances its flavor and distinguishes it from all other ice creams, is the ‘salep’ obtained from the knobby root of the wild orchid and ground in a mill. The ice cream made in Kahramanmaras and Gaziantep doesn’t cause the usual ‘burning’ sensation on the palate; indeed their soothing effect on the tongue and palate is yet another characteristic of the ice creams of this region. You can have it in cups, cones or waffle sandwiches. Traditionally, one could only find ice cream at shops that specialized in uniquely winter treats like pickles or the fermented hot drink ‘boza’, and whose trade in ice cream was therefore limited to summer. Times have changed now ice cream sweetens the palates of everyone from seven to seventy all year round.
Reference: Vedat Basaran, Onder Durmaz/SKYLIFE
Some selected examples (please click on pictures to enlarge):