Is it just me, or did summer barely even come this year? Can’t believe the temperature is already plummeting below 20°C! The good news is, all the ice cream lovers can rejoice, as this is actually the perfect temperature to enjoy your ice cream outside without it turning into a melty mess.
While we’re spoiled with so many different kinds of ice cream options in Toronto — gelato (my apologies to the purists who consider gelato a separate category!!), soft serve, artisan ice cream, rolled ice cream, and even gelato macarons to name a few — I’ve made it a point to try a local ice cream place every time I travel because this frozen treat has some surprising forms around the world. Check them out below!
Eastern Mediterranian: Booza
Booza is one of the oldest forms of ice cream originating from the Levant region of the Eastern Mediterranean. It has a signature characteristic of having a soft elasticity (ice cream pull anyone?), which is attributed to two of its unique ingredients — sahlab (ground orchid root) and mastic (a resin). Rather than being churned, booza is pounded and stretched to activate the elasticity and remove air pockets, making it smoother, denser and creamier than traditional ice cream. This also allows it to be served in warmer temperatures as booza is more resistant to melting. I was lucky to find The Republic of Booza in Brooklyn New York (it was basically my priority to go there on my trip). I absolutely loved the texture of it!
Kulfi is a popular Indian frozen dessert with a dense texture similar to custard. It’s made with condensed milk, sugar, saffron and cardamom. Kulfi used to only be found in the street markets of India — iconically stored frozen in earthenware pots of salt and ice. The good news is, since it became more popular, you can actually find it at some Whole Foods stores!
Alaska would be one of the last places I would think to have any type of frozen dessert, but I am delightfully wrong! A popular local frozen treat in Alaska is called Akutaq and is traditionally made with meat and fat from animals like seals, moose, and caribou, and the addition of seasonal ingredients like salmonberries and blueberries. This packs all the nutrients for Eskimos to keep up their energy while on a long hunting expedition. If you’re not a fan of animal meats and fats in your ice cream, the modern-day version of it substitutes them with Crisco instead. When I found out about this, I was so intrigued so this is definitely one of my bucket list ice cream items to try. Or I could attempt to make it...
Spaghetties is a German ice cream dish invented by an Italian, Dario Fontanella, in Germany in the 1960s and is made to resemble a dish of pasta. It’s basically vanilla ice cream extruded through a pasta maker to create the “spaghetti” placed over whipped cream and topped with strawberry sauce (“tomato sauce”) and coconut flakes/white chocolate shavings (“parmesan cheese”). There are other variations as well, but this is the classic. If you’re lucky, you can find them around local restaurants as a novelty item since it became more well-known through social media. I’ve seen them around in Toronto markets but never knew it was from Germany!
Faloodeh is a traditional Iranian cold dessert made with thin vermicelli-like noodles in a semi-frozen rosewater syrup. This is then served with lime juice and sometimes topped with crushed pistachios. Sometimes it’s also served with bastani sonnati, which is a traditional Persian ice cream. I’m on the lookout to find this around Toronto to try, as it’s said to be similar to a sorbet but with an extra crunch from the frozen noodles!
Dondurma is another stretchy ice cream, which I imagine to be similar to booza since it also includes ingredients like salep and mastic that give its elasticity. This Turkish ice cream has a harder texture so it requires regular churning with long-handled paddles to keep it pliable. Dondurma street vendors in Istanbul have a cheeky image as they’re known for performing tricks with their stretchy ice cream and teasing their customers before they finally get their ice cream — the video below says it all!
You’ve probably had soft serve plenty of times in your life, but have you had Jipangyi? Jipanyi is a special j-shaped cone made with crushed corn found in South Korea. Its hollow tube is filled with ice cream (with many flavours to choose from!) that comes out of both ends. This is such an ingenious idea since it helps contain the mess so that you don’t lose any ice cream. It’s also super instagrammable!
Pro tip: get your jipangyi from a store with higher traffic so you know you’re getting a fresh cone (speaking from personal experience)
If you can’t tell, I love ice cream (hence my Instagram is almost 50% ice cream posts, haha) and I hope you learned about a new type of ice cream from this article! It’s amazing to see all the different takes on this frozen treat and I hope I’ll get to try most of them one day.
Let me know which ice cream from this list you want to try, and tell me where your favourite ice cream store is in the comments below!