Iran, yakhchāl, faloodeh and why Italy is not the homeland of ice cream

In summer, one of the saves in the heat is ice cream. Whether we choose it from the freezer in the store or rely on more expensive craft options, the important thing is to enjoy it.

Even if we haven’t thought about where the ice cream comes from, the answer will surely surprise us. At least, because it’s not Italy. Iran is considered the birthplace of ice cream. It all started about 2000 years ago. A solution to the difficult task from today’s point of view – to lower the temperature to the point of freezing, gives a cone-shaped building in ancient Persia. They call me yakhchāl (ancient type evaporative cooler).

Above the ground it is conical in shape, and in its deep underground part the temperature is low enough to freeze water. In fact, this is one of the prides of Iranian architecture.

Each yakhchāl has a massive wall that provides shade, a pond from which the water comes, and an underground storage room where it freezes due to the low temperature. Leder, whether obtained during the nights of the cold months or brought from the nearby mountains, is stored here for months.

This technique was used as early as 400 BC. With this ice, the Iranians also prepared faloodeh – their typical dessert, which is very similar to today’s ice cream. Faloodeh (an Arabicized form of paloodeh that appeared after the Arab conquest of Iran, due to a lack of the phoneme /p/ in Standard Arabic) is a combination of ice, starch and different types of syrup. In appearance, the final product looks like very thin spaghetti.

Today in many places in Iran you can still try faloodeh, writes the BBC. Here it is offered along with ice cream, which we are all used to seeing everywhere. The traditional dessert includes sheep’s milk, rose water, saffron and sugar. It is very likely that not everyone will like the faloodeh, but it is worth a try if you have the opportunity. Of course, today it is not stored in a yakhchāl, but in refrigerators.

Nowadays, after thousands of years of preparing faloodeh, ice cream machines are being imported to Iran from Italy, which many consider to be the home of the ice cream dessert, because it is becoming really popular there.

The Iranians themselves prefer a richer taste, with more sugar and whole milk – like the Americans. While in Europe, where the hegemons are the Italians, lighter versions of ice cream and various types of sorbets are consumed.



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