Monday, 17 March 2014

Salep, Vanilla, Orchid

                        Visiting Istanbul in winter, you will see vendors of Salep around, just like this one.


It's a popular winter drink in Turkey and in Middle East, over the lands where once Ottomans ruled. The ground real Salep is easily found in Spice Shops, in Turkish called 'Aktar'.
 The original drink is hard to find and expensive to consume as it is made from the powdered roots of some mountain orchid species mostly grown in Anatolia. 
According to a research in 2004, in order to obtain a kilo of Salep, 1000-4000 orchid tubers are used. This should explain why a kg of salep is 500 Turkish Liras. 
Salep is not only used in its popular drink but is also a main ingredient for ice cream production.
Real ice cream 'dondurma' in Turkey is not to be made with eggs or corn strach but from Salep.
Today, orchids used in Salep making are unfortunately announced to be endangered and are under protection. A new project launched in 2014, by the Ministry of Forestry and Water Affairs in Turkey aims to cultivate 2 million new orchids in gardens established for genetic studies and transfer them to their natural expansion zones until 2018. 

All orchids look beautiful but their tubers are named after their fox testicle appereance which according to some resources is where the name Salep derives from the Arabic transtation for fox testicles hasyu- al-tha 'lab.
Talking of orchids; on the left we have a sample of an orchid and on the right there's vanilla and salep. Yes, vanilla is another wonder of orchids.