Across China: Turkish vendor spreads sweet taste of ice cream in China
CHONGQING, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The internet is brimming with amusing videos of Turkish ice cream vendors displaying their playful tricks, as they flip the ice cream cones before giving them to customers.
Such entertaining scenes are perhaps an everyday affair in the ancient town of Ciqikou in southwest China's Chongqing municipality, where Ali Buyuksakalli from Turkey's Istanbul City has been serving this exotic delicacy to customers for about a decade.
The 36-year-old ice cream vendor currently runs more than 50 ice cream parlors across China, sharing the delicious Turkish treat and the culture associated with it.
Turkish ice cream, which has a history of more than 300 years, is a hallmark Turkish delicacy and one of the most preferred summertime desserts.
The unique food is so thick that sometimes it needs to be eaten with a knife and fork. And it is believed to be one of the chewiest ice creams in the world, Buyuksakalli said.
The delicacy is often prepared and sold in a highly amusing way, engaging customers in humorous interactions. Buyuksakalli enjoys entertaining his customers by pulling the scoop back just before they are tricked into thinking they are going to have it.
Buyuksakalli brought this one-of-a-kind ice cream to China for the first time in 2010 as an exhibitor at the Shanghai World Expo. "I met my wife in China, a beautiful girl from Suzhou in the eastern province of Jiangsu. After we got married, we opened our first Turkish Taksim ice cream shop in Shanghai," he said.
"I am very happy to work in China, and I am often praised and thanked by my customers when I make ice cream and perform for them," Buyuksakalli added.
After visiting Chongqing in 2009, he and his wife fell in love with the city's tranquil pace of life and decided to settle down there in 2011.
In recent years, China's continued opening-up has made life easier for foreigners living in the country. "Foreign cheese and bread used to be hard to get, but are now easily accessible. Authentic Turkish food and goods from all over the world can be bought here, and I even buy some items online in China and then send them back to Turkey," Buyuksakalli said.
As an important partner under the Belt and Road Initiative, Turkey has witnessed increasing trade, cultural and personnel exchanges with China over the years.
"China is the first choice for many in Turkey to travel abroad, and I have recruited many people from my hometown to work in China," Buyuksakalli added. Turkish employees can work in his ice cream shops after completing a year of professional training, and now all his shops have Turkish employees.
He said he is particularly grateful to China for its rapid and effective containment of the COVID-19 outbreak, which would have otherwise seriously affected his business.
"Many of my shops are in scenic areas, and the number of tourists picked up quickly after the epidemic was brought under control. Now, some of my shops can rake in a daily turnover of about 10,000 yuan (about 1,584 U.S. dollars), or 30,000 yuan during the peak summer season," Buyuksakalli said.
The Turkish businessman's family in Istanbul has been involved in making ice cream for more than four decades, and he and his brother have expanded the business to France and China.
Buyuksakalli believes that the centuries-old delicacy has a prosperous future. "I hope my children can continue the sweet business in China in the future."