Guide to Turkish Ice Cream – Introduction, Part 1
Neither wife Peri nor I are big sweet eaters – except that I like ice cream … a lot. So much so, when I sit down to have some, I consume a box at a time, whether that be a pint, a quart (or a a liter) – or even a half-gallon of ice cream when I'm going strong. Once the box is open, like Pandora's, I can not close it again until it's empty.
And because I've eaten so much of the stuff over the years, in so many different places. I secretly believe that I can separate the ice cream equivalent of 'the wheat from the chaff' , wherever I go …
For example, when I lived in the UK, I became fond of the Walls brand ice cream and in the States I had two American favorites – Ben and Jerry's and the less expensive Breyers (especially their Coffee-flavored ice cream). And elsewhere in the rest of ice-cream-eating civilization, you can count on international Häagen-Dazs (although it's originally American too) to always deliver the same outstanding product – now available in 54 countries including Turkey (Istanbul).
But, as we made plans in 1992 to retire early, for a life on the Aegean Seacoast, just us two and our two cats … I wonderlessly passing about what I might expect from the ' ice cream situation' of Turkey when we arrived ?
Since I could not remember what it had been like when I first lived in Turkey (in Ankara) in the 70's … I had nothing to go on. And, anyway, such recollections probably were not relevant after so many years.
So when we 'landed' in August 1992 (this time in Gümüldür, a remote western coastal village 80km from Izmir-city), the quality of 'modern-day' Turkish ice cream was high on my list of things to learn about , in a hurry.
Availability of the ice cream product was not on my list. It should have been.
Because no sooner had the Turkish Elementary School System re-opened in early September than the entire supply of ice cream in Gümüldür (and the surrounding villages) began to dry up – until, on the 1st of October, there was none left at all . We know. We scoured every food market and bakkal within 25 minutes driving distance, in every direction. Any further out than that (say, to Izmir itself) and any ice cream we found would have melted before we could get it home.
Seems the ice-cream-eating season was considered over in Gümüldür, And, as Peri dutifully explained to me, local Turks thought out-of-season ice-cream eating was unhealthy – so they did not do it. Which killed the out-of-season ice-cream trade , of course. [Asitturnedouttheyalsothoughtbackthenthatitwasunhealthytodrinkplainrefrigeratedwaterorsoftdrinkswithice-thoughdrinkingalcoholicRakı with refrigerated water (had with always ice or both) had always been perfectly normal and acceptable to those same people. Go figure.]
But, hey … What about poor me? … I was used to eating ice cream any time I felt the urge – summer, fall, winter, spring. And it looked like I was now out of luck until the following May, when ice-cream-eating season might begin anew.
I hit bottom.
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