Have you ever had a serious thought about ice cream? Well, you may say why one would have serious thoughts about ice cream apart from the times with sudden cravings of dessert. If you were a kid, living in Istanbul in the late 80s, believe me, you would.
Every summer afternoon, at around 3-4 pm, he used to pass by pushing his heavy wooden trolley calling ‘donduuuurmaaa’ (ice cream) and that day’s flavors ‘çikolataaaa, naaane’ (chocolate, mint). He was our Rum (Greek) ice cream maker uncle, the most smiling face man that I have ever seen, he used to sell grilled chestnuts and halva in winter.
Excitement and stress start the moment I hear his familiar ‘scream’, was more sacred than the call to prayer for me. Excitement because, it was ice cream we are talking about and it was stressful because of the mom factor who asks (well, actually states) if I hadn’t had any the day before. This was a mom’s way of saying ice cream should not be eaten every day as it causes throat ache.
As a kid, I never had the correlation between eating ice cream and having a sore throat and today, I still do not have it.
His trolley was a very medieval one that had only two bucket holes and a metal cone holder. However, it was a great surprise for us as we were able to taste different flavors throughout the week. I remember he used to make (yes, he both made and sold it himself as many other tradesmen did) vanilla (that we used to call ‘sade-plain’), chocolate, sour cherry, lemon, mint, strawberry, caramel, and melon flavored ice cream and combine different two flavors for each day. Salep (wild orchid root powder) was the best ingredient he used to use in his recipes as it gives a great texture to it. The rich creamy scoops were packed full of flavor.
The days that I was allowed to eat, I almost used to freak out thinking that the children queue in front of the ice cream man was endless and he will run out of ice cream until it was my turn. Thanks god it was never the case. However, getting the ice cream was not that easy at all. He used to make lots of tricks before handing the cone to us. His most common trick was to use two cones within each other: every time we think we are getting the ice-cream, whenever we reach out to the cone, he pulls out the ice cream cone and left us with the empty one.
I can not recall a better texture, flavor, and taste than ones he was selling. However, I can say the second runner was and still is Mini Dondurma (a tiny shop, just 4m²) nestled in the upmarket neighborhood of Bebek. My dad used to drive us there as a whole family and it was the best evening activity for me including falling asleep after eating the ice cream on the way back home.
As I was writing this article, my friend Ürün reminded me of the childish trick that we used to make. Buying two cones of ice cream with the same amount of money instead of one as it used to look like we end up eating more.
All together, let’s scream ice cream!