Bakdash Ice Cream – Damascuson May 15, 2011
One of the reasons I was keen to visit the Middle East and Syria in particular were the images conjured up by Barry Vera in his book and accompanying TV show ‘Feast Bazaar‘ which was shown on SBS. The idea of travelling halfway across the world to try hither to unsampled cuisines left an indelible imprint, hence a trip to the Middle East (Egypt, Syria, Jordan & Turkey) was hatched. I recall a highlight of the show being a visit to Bakdash in the souk in Damascus – world famous for its ice cream. Well of course, we would need to visit Bakdash too!
When you say ‘Syria’, ice cream isn’t the first food that springs to mind. But there in prime position in the Souk since 1885 is Bakdash, with people queueing to get a table and any number of dessert delights being served up to the masses. Like Turkish ice cream which is given a chewy texture by the addition of Mastic, Syrian ice cream includes Mastic that must be pounded and beaten into the base custard with Sahlab (or Salep), which is dried orchid root. The resulting ice cream is cold, sweet, chewy but not really creamy as it has no dairy in it.
For few Syrian Pounds, two of us shared an enormous serve of Booza, which is the ice cream wodged into a cone and then rolled in pistachios. It was definitely a thrilling moment in my culinary adventures.
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