Do you love ice cream? Then a stop at the town of Kahramanmaraş or Maraş for short is a must. Their dövme dondurma …translated as beaten ice cream… is to die for!
Where is Kahramanmaraş?. Well, it is a bit off the beaten track but if you are exploring the South Eastern part of Anatolia you will be close by. The road from Goreme to Gaziantep takes you right past the door!
But there is more to Maraş than just icecream. The city is like many other cities in this area. As you drive into town, you pass block after block of high rise apartments. Modern shops then start to appear, and finally you arrive in the centre of the old city via wide streets with manicured gardens down the centre and a statue or two .
Luckily for us, a parking spot appeared just outside one of the many spice shops that line this street with their colourful dried peppers and eggplant hanging down over the spices.
Maraş is also known for its pistachios or fistik. The bright pink pistachios are unlike any other you have tried. Try them..they taste very different to pistachios you will have tasted before.
Interspersed between the spice shops are bakeries and biscuit shops, enticing you with their mounds of pistachio biscuits and local sweet bread called katmer. Pop into one of the shops and I’m sure you’ll be given a taste.
As we wandered through the city, the local people were intrigued as to where we were from and beckoned us into their shops to take their photos and try their food. Once again, we marvelled at the friendliness of the Turkish people, even though neither of us could understand the other.
At a small park next to the mosque where the men gather to pass the time of day between prayers, çay was offered as was their local drink,meyan kökü…….a licorice based drink that is likened to turkish cola. I’m sure it is an acquired taste but it is worth trying just to see it being served! It’s not that bad!
We then headed into the bazaar but didn’t get far when we invited into one of the pide shops.The video below (click on the picture) shows how quickly and expertly they were being made. I can attest to it not being as easy as it looks! One minute I was happily watching them and the next I was having an apron thrust at me and given a ball of dough to try and make my own. After our lessons with Olga at the workshop, I thought this would be easy but I failed miserably much to the laughter of the boys!
With a warm pide straight from the oven in hand we wandered back into the alleys to explore other corners of the bazaar.
Walk through the new covered parts of the bazaar and you will find yourself in the alleyways where the copper utensils are made, the noise of the beating of the copper pots already telling you that you are close
Fires burn in the dark workshops, but apart from those needing the direct heat, most work outside .
Smoke fills the air and, as the measured beat of the hammer on the copper disappears into the background, we are called in to another shop to take more photos.
Here the pot is being heated and the inside cleaned before being dunked in a bowl of water that promptly sizzles.
My favourite man has been quietly watching all this take place but as we approach I am wondering if he will want his photo taken. Thankfully he does, but work does not stop whilst I click away. I’d love to know how long he has been making shoes but conversation is impossible. I look down and his gnarled hands answer my question.
Luckily he is not a dying breed for just down the street, I spy a younger shoemaker busily crafting mocassins by hand.
There is much more to see but we are here for the ice cream….
Everything that I had read was true…it was ‘so thick that you can cut it with a knife and fork’!
As we walked past, a vendor tries to tempt us with a few tricks…tricks we had seen during our seven weeks in Croatia though there are not many ice creams that I know of that could be hung upside down in the air and not fall off the scoop!
But we headed to Yasar, the original ice cream shop in Kahramanmaraş started by Mehmet Sait Kanbur’s great grandfather late last century. Today the company has outlets all over Turkey . Three main ingredients are used to make the ice cream: goat’s milk,sugar and salep, the dried orchid root found in the area.
Traditionally served with sprinkle of pistachio, you’ll find yourself wanting more of this delicious, creamy treat!
We returned to the car and our friendly parking man was waiting to be paid. Somehow we realised he was asking us where we were from and when we said Australia he became very excited, asked us to wait a minute and rang a friend! The novelty was too much not to share, as he handed his phone to my husband and motioned for him to speak to his friend! It was a fitting and fun farewell to a town we’ll definitely be coming back to….especially for the ice cream!
Have you been to central Turkey? Did you try the ice cream?