- Cart at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport, International Terminal, Departures, after Passport Control, in front of the Old Bazaar
At the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul I hear two words: “Ice cream. Ice cream.” My ears perk. I stop to investigate. A tall, affable man is stirring fervently. Something about his enthusiasm had caught my attention.
“So you make your own ice cream?” “Yes.” He pulls out a huge oar that is suitable for a guiding a tour through Venice. “Would you like to see it?” I lean forward and try to peer deep into the well of ice cream, but his prod stops me. He pulls it out with a swirl of pistachio on the end and places it an inch from my nose, so close that I can smell the fresh nuts. He has me. “A scoop in a cone, please.”
He pumps his lever on the creme to counter the thickness of the gelato. Spinning the cone he pushes the ice cream through it like a funnel. I reach out to grab it, but he pulls it away, teasing me. A moment passes, and he puts the rod forward. My hand opens to grab the cone. When it was nearly secure, he spins the rod upside down and the cone goes with it. The density of the gelato holds it to the cone like glue. I grow antsy.
“Give me my gelato!” I say, with a hint of severity. “First some nuts?” he says. “Sure.” He flips the cone and dips it in a bowl of fresh pistachios.
With all the effort, I wonder if the ice cream will satisfy my anticipation. It does. It’s so thick that I have to work with my tongue to eat it, like drinking an extremely stubborn milkshake through a straw. Fresh pistachios linger in every bite and are infused into the base itself. The secret ingredient is salep, the ground tubers of wild orchids.
I am near lost in my fantasy when I check the time. 8:45 a.m. “Oh my god!” I exclaim. “My flight!” With urgency I ask, “where is Gate 207?” “It’s about a 10 minute walk from here,” he says, pointing to the right.
My flight had started boarding twenty minutes ago. Ten minutes wasn’t enough time to make it. In an extreme hurry, and with two bags to carry, I found myself in a dilemma: I couldn’t carry them both and eat at the same time!
The gelato prevailed, I just couldn’t bear to throw it away. I chomped on the cone, pushing my tongue to the roof of my mouth to melt it faster, while simultaneously handing him a $5 bill. “Keep the change.” I grab both bags, grip my toes as tightly as I can to the roof of my sandals and sprint to the gate.
“Hurry up!” the flight attended exclaims. “I’m sorry,” I gasp, short on breath. “Something came up.” She shoots me a quizzical look, scans my ticket and escorts me onto the plane.
It would have been better if… I had had more time to try the chocolate.