Ice Cream Around the World

It’s July. You know what that means? It’s National Ice Cream Month–31 days of celebrating Americans’ love for its classic frozen treat. In honor of this sweet occasion, we’re bringing back this P Magazine article by Maria Seaman, area marketing manager, Latin America, to revisit how ice cream is loved around the world.

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Every country, region, city, even town has a particular dish that makes them known or even puts them on the world map of culinary excellence. Nowadays, almost every culinary desire is within our reach, making us more aware of the cultures in other countries, thereby increasing our curiosity to know more about all of them.

When it comes to desserts, some of us, tend to do some investigative work when we travel or visit a new restaurant. But there’s nothing simpler than ice cream, we all know it in some way, shape, or form, and although ice cream can be enjoyed in different ways, it doesn’t matter where you come from, ice cream has proven to be a timeless desert. So, join me in this short tour of ice cream around the world.

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Let’s start with Kulfi from Far East, India. Kulfi uses a slow cooking process and is made with condensed milk, making it denser and sweeter.  The website India.com explains the process: kulfi is poured into molds and frozen in a vessel filled with salt and ice. The vessel is well-insulated and both protects the kulfi from outside heat, and slows the melting time of the ice. Flavors include rosewater, mango, and saffron, and to add some crunch, pieces of pistachio are sprinkled in.

We now move to the Philippines with Sorbetes, also known as “dirty ice cream.” But don’t be alarmed, Sorbetes gets its unique nickname because it’s sold from street carts. Made with coconut milk or carabo’s (water buffalo) milk, Sorbetes is thickened with cassava flour, and depending on the vendor, you can get it on a wafer cone, in a small plastic cup, or bread bun. Flavors consist of mango, melon, avocado, and jackfruit.

Next stop, Turkey! This region brings us the creamiest and most flexible ice cream of all—Dondurma. The stretchiness of this treat is thanks to a special and rare ingredient, salep—a wild orchid root native to Turkey; while mastic or gum Arabic lends its elasticity and a higher melting point to help withstand the blistering Mediterranean sun.

Our delicious world ice cream tour now brings us to Russia, with its Plombir. As stated on the Food Network’s website, Russia’s food was heavily influenced by classical French cuisine in the 19th century, where Plombir has its roots. Unlike the ice cream that is currently popular in France, Plombir is heavy on the eggs — like a thick, frozen pastry cream.

We now move to something closer to us in the Americas. Our neighbor, Mexico, brings us Chongos. This delicacy is a Mexican custard which is transformed into an ice cream. It all begins with milk and sugar that’s curdled and finished with some cinnamon.

And to finalize this short tour, we end at the equator. Ecuador brings us not only the beauty of the Galapagos Islands, but the deliciousness of simplicity with its Helado de Paila.  Made in a huge round-bottom brass pan filled with local fruits, sugar, water or cream, and sitting on top of crushed ice, this pan then is turned continuously until the mixture starts freezing. Flavor recommendations from the locals are mora (blackberry) and taxo (banana passion fruit).

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Now that you have experienced a glimpse of the processes, ingredients, and ways of serving ice cream in different countries around the world, perhaps these flavors will inspire your next innovative ice cream recipe to add to the international “treat” list.

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