Meet the David Blaines of Turkish Ice Cream

The dondurma vendors of Istanbul don't fuck around with their ice cream showmanship. If you want a cone, you'll have to endure a seamless magic act with ice cream strong enough to be cut with a chainsaw.

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Jun 22 2016, 12:00pm

Real Turkish ice cream isn't like other ice cream. Along with cream, sugar, and flavorings, proper maraş dondurması is made with salep, the ground-up roots of a wild orchid native to the country. Salep—which comes from an Arabic phrase meaning "fox testicles"—contains a kind of starch that gives dondurma a particularly elastic consistency, allowing people stretch it into giant ropes and even cut it with chainsaws.

In Istanbul, the street-side ice cream vendors pound away at the dessert all day with long metal rods, working it like a bread dough. And when tourists come to buy a scoop, the vendors break out their showmanship and put on an elaborate act, utilizing the peculiar qualities of dondurma to perform a seamless series of magic tricks. You have to work for your cone.

If only David Blaine were as talented.

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A vendor at Taksim Mix. Photos by Monique Jaques.

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140901_munchies_094 The scene at Maraş Dövme Dondurma.

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140908_munchies_325 Taksim Mix in the daytime.

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This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES on September 9, 2014.