Standing behind the counter at his small bici bici shop in the Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul, Cuma Usta recalls the first time he headed up into the mountains with his uncles in search of wild ice, one of the key ingredients in this Turkish snow cone treat sold from street carts throughout southern Turkey. His uncles had gone up in the winter and cut large slabs of ice from the mountaintop, wrapped it in old blankets and hauled it off with a donkey to a nearby cave. In July, with young Cuma – just being introduced to the ways of bici bici – in tow, they headed back to the cave to collect the ice. It took a couple of hours by car, as he recalled, and the ride back to Adana, vehicle loaded with the frozen bounty, was nice and chilly. Then they’d use that ice to make the summertime street food favorite bici bici (pronounced like the disco-era band of brothers from Australia) and sell it from pushcarts. According to tradition, a bici bici master is, firstly, a harvester of ice.
“Mountain ice is softer. Factory ice,” he said, pointing to a pristine chunk freshly liberated from a plastic wrapping, “it’s been ‘shocked’ so it’s hard. Not as good.”
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