Lots of little children have their special comforters, like a little blanket, or, a toy, or, a taste. So it was, in a Bohemian meeting place called Tmol Shilshom, in Jerusalem, a friend got talking to us about his special childhood comfort memory.
His mum used to make him a special drink some evenings, in which she mixed very finely chopped nuts, honey and spices…the names of which, in English, he did not know.
Here, in Tmol Shilshom, he could re-live the comfort tastes of his childhood; the drink was good, almost as good as the one his mother used to make for him. He was going to order it and if we liked it, we could order more. With a recommendation like that, who could refuse at the very least to try this magical experience and share with him just a little of his personal memory. I couldn’t refuse. it was a very special gift.
The order was given. You could hear a lot of whipping and stirring going on in the nearby kitchen. Very soon a long heat -proof glass arrived filled with a thick creamy substance. My friend dipped the long handled spoon in to the glass; offering it to me, he gently said….. Taste a little… perhaps, in just the same way his mum had once said it to him. On top was a sprinkling of ground pistachios and almonds around which, was a fine circle of light brown powder. The dessert texture was smooth, the flavours were yummy. I could distinguish the delicate flavour of cinnamon and a blend of nut flavours. He watched me closely as I hummed a long ‘mmmmmm’. With a big smile my friend said, ‘ It is yours…you have that one, I will order another one for myself……..this is salep’.
Back in Jerusalem two years later we found our own way to TMol Shilshom, where I ordered salep, of course. We met up with our friend a few days later and talked of our shared memory: shared, except for one detail, we were unsure about the main ingredient of it. Maybe, by now, the little mystery had become part of the charm. My friend took me to a small grocery store where I was shown a packet mix of salep I could buy to take home with me. The two boxes contained two packets and each packet made two portions of dessert similar to those we had.
The main ingredient given on the box was corn starch. Who would have thought it!
I have heard since of a very similar dessert, with a similar sound name, being made with extra fine (powdery) ground rice,
Irrespective of the variations, I can vouch that the dessert I had was a delicious comforter . 🙂