Move over soft serve and Dippin’ Dots, there is a new kind of ice cream getting ready to take over America. Booza — a stretchy Lebanese ice cream that you pull like a rubber band — is making its way to the States. And if you live in New York, you could be one of the first to try it.
The Republic of Booza is a new storefront in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, and it serves the ice cream style that was born in the Levant — a large area in the Eastern Mediterranean. While this style of ice cream has standard ingredients like milk and cream, one of the co-founders, Michael Sadler, told Thrillist that booza gets its signature stretch from two ingredients, salep, and mastic.
Salep is a flour made from orchid root and mastic is a resin that comes from the Greek mastic tree. Mastic is also a key ingredient in chewing gum. These ingredients make the ice cream stretchy like dondurma, a Turkish style of ice cream. But, you also have to pound and knead booza to get that stretchy look.
These special ingredients and the pounding allow booza to be served at a temperature 20 degrees higher than most other frozen dairy treats and it melts more slowly, making it the perfect cold treat on a hot day. Sadler says that it is the ultimate form of ice cream because it “packs more flavor” in each scoop and is less airy than other ice creams, but denser than gelato. Even though booza is stretchy, it does not have a rubbery or chewy texture. Instead, it is incredibly creamy.
Booza is one of the oldest forms of ice cream in the world, but one of the reasons that booza isn’t widespread in America is because it is difficult to source salep and mastic, says Sadler. There are a few places throughout the country that do make booza, but the Republic of Booza is the first to set up a scoop shop completely dedicated to it.
Sadler says that he and his co-owners have big plans for their store, and they would love for the world to fall in love with booza the same way it did with gelato. To start their mission of booza being a household name, they have begun serving traditional flavors like kashta, a pure milk flavor, as well as saffron, Oreo, and matcha.
There are also plans in the works to sell booza by the pint, so that customers can enjoy it at home.
They would also like to open more scoop shops, but they are focusing on their first store right now and making sure they can keep the weekend crowds happy.
“A lot of people speak about gelato as being superior to ice cream because it’s churned at a slower speed and has less air. It has that silkier, creamier kind of thing going on. Booza is like that — times ten,” says Sadler.
Because booza is so Instagrammable, it is likely that its popularity will spread quickly, and maybe you will find a Republic of Booza close to you very soon.