Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Turkish wild orchids ice cream
My first taste of salepi dondurma, a unique Turkish ice cream made from tubers of wild orchids was many years ago in Grand Bazaar of Istanbul during school trip to this vibrant, beautiful colorful city. Since then, I've tried it many times at different international Food and Wine shows here in Sydney and always love an opportunity to taste it again and again.
Dondurma is the Turkish word for ice cream and salep is the whitish flour milled from the dried tubers of wild, terrestrial orchids grown through Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor. Local people collect the orchid tubers for this uniquely Turkish delicacy and this dessert made from tubers flour, milk and sugar. The frozen mixture then beaten with metal rods until it's very elastic in texture and can be eaten with a knife and fork. The taste - slightly sweet, nutty, subtle earthy and comes in many flavors - apricot, pistachio, peach, vanilla, red currant and many others.
Originally, salepi dondurma was mixed by hand. It was then pounded to a smooth consistency with metal rods, and then stretched by hand. These days gelato machines used for freezing and mixing, but the final product is still beaten and kneaded with metal rods for some time, to achieve the proper degree of elasticity.
This delicacy, I was told, also have unique medicinal properties and according to Gioscorides, Greek Physician from First-Century AD and other more recent experts in this field, salepi dondurma can " heal the spleen, prevent cholera and tuberculosis, facilitate childbirth, stop your hands and feet from shaking, prevent getting lump on your back, keep your chest soft, heal bronchitis and used as an aphrodisiac when needed." For many years now I've been evaluating long-term benefits of wild orchids ice-cream and look for it anytime opportunity presents itself.
Ahh, but perhaps the best medical advice about the properties of salepi dondurma I received from colorful ice-cream vendor in Istanbul all these years ago - "it will cure those who mentally fallen crazy in love"... No comment.
Here is a short video showing traditional serving of ice-cream by Turkish ice-cream vendors: