Who Wants to Fly to Turkey for Ice Cream?

People visit Turkey for many reasons:  The thriving culture, sparkling sapphire seaside, world famous healing spas and amazing historical sites like Istanbul and the otherworldly cave hotels and  fairy chimneys of Cappadocia. It’s a unique, vibrant country where a rich Middle Eastern culture meets the Western world.

But enough of that. We want to go there for the ice cream.

Not any old ice cream, mind you. But the fascinating, stretchy, chewy concoction twirled around by ice cream vendors in the streets of Istanbul. You see, ice cream in Turkey is nothing like ice cream or gelato in the rest of the world. It’s so cool that it had us scouring airfare websites for deals Turkey to see if we can make it happen.

Turkish Ice Cream Vendor
Yes, that’s ice cream he’s holding! Photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis

Ice cream in Turkey is folded and kneaded like bread dough, then twirled and stretched beyond what you’d believe possible.

What is this magic stuff? Called dondurma, Turkey’s ice cream is made stretchy with salep (a powder made with orchis tubers) and mastic (a resin from the mastic tree). Despite its stretchy texture, dondurma is just as cold as the ice cream we’re used to in the Western world.

Check out this video of a mischievous ice cream vendor in Istanbul giving his customers their money’s worth in entertainment.

We showed this video to our little ones, and they’ve been asking to watch it constantly. It’s more entertaining to them than the Disney Channel or making rock castles.

Seriously, how did I go most of my life without knowing about this? Our family loves ice cream. If you follow our blog, you might have picked up on the fact that we talk about ice cream a lot. A. Lot. Like our love affair with Trits ice cream sandwiches, ice cream and road trips, and our insistence on putting ice cream in every best restaurants or best things to do post we write.

So how does Turkish ice cream taste? Supposedly pretty darn good. How can something that looks like this not be delicious?
Dondurma Turkish Ice Cream with Raspberries and Berries
Dondurma by Tuhfe

Oh, and once we get our fill of ice cream, we hear the rest of Turkey’s not too shabby, either. 😉

Pamukkale Turkey
Pamukkale by Ana Raquel S. Hernandes

Hopefully we’ll get our fill of it this spring as we enjoy a very open ended, extended trip to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean Sea.

Maiden Castle Kizkalesi Mersin Turkey
Maiden Castle by Alan L Priest
Cleopatra beach through the wall at Alanya Castle
Cleopatra beach from Alanya Castle by Timo Tervo
Hagia Sophia Turkey Historic Site
Hagia Sophia by MiGowa
If you have any good suggestions on places we should visit or things to do and see feel free to leave them in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.