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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Steaming Sahleb

IMG_4151The mysterious hot sahleb drink is served on Middle Eastern streets throughout the freezing winter months. Often served in outdoor kiosks from large, silver, samovar urns, the drink approximates a pudding-like dessert created out of ground orchid root.

You heard right. Orchid root.

It’s a thick, fragrant drink that will warm you from the inside-out. Often, crowds gather round the vendor proffering a small cupful in anything from a small, paper espresso cup or larger styrofoam one. The price might range from a couple of dollars up to maybe five dollars in the local currency.

You could be in Athens or Istanbul, Jerusalem or Jericho. The hot, thick, aromatic potion will be calling your name through the crowded streets or bustling bazaars.

Mixed with milk, rice flour, sugar and rosewater, the ground starchy orchid rootth powder works its magic. You could sip it, or scoop with a spoon to eat it, once liberally covered with condiments of your choosing, all spread before you in an array of small plastic or glass bowls.

Coconut, raisins, cinnamon, chopped nuts, cloves, cardamom, perhaps chocolate or bananas… your choice. And through it all, the fragrance lifts you and the warmth soothes you. In any lands of the former Ottoman Empire, people don’t mind winter so much when there’s sahleb in the streets.

Check out some Mediterranean or Middle Eastern groceries for imitation sahlab mix to give it a try yourself. The very thought is warming.


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