The next time you are at a cafe, try ordering the popular “fox testicles” Arab drink. What you get in your cup, if they are lucky enough to know what a steaming pot of fox testicles is, could vary, however. While most stories in the news these days about the Middle East contain strange information like Saudi Arabia holding a women’s conference with no women present, this story about a normal Arab drink is even stranger.
Although the fox testicles drink has been common in the Middle East for centuries, a recent blog post by Egyptian Streets took issue with a writer that stated that the drink was “Israel’s Answer to Hot Chocolate.” The author explains that it is not only an Israeli drink, but one that originates from the Ottoman Empire.
The blog post goes on to explain that the fox testicles drink was called sahlab in Arabic, or sachlav in Hebrew. The quote about sahlab or sachlav allegedly being translated to mean fox testicles originates in English with a book published in 2010 by Gil Mark called, Encyclopedia of Jewish Food. The phrase the fox testicles drink is originally based on is, “hasyou al-thaalab.”
But why use the name fox testicles? The passage in the encyclopedia goes on to note that ground orchid powder has been used historically to, “revive the spirit and to arouse sexual desire.” Does this mean that the fox testicles drink will be the new little blue pill?
Google Translate backs up the fox testicles allegation easily and states that ‘thalab’ means fox in Arabic and testicle is ‘who-see-ya.’ It should be noted that testicle (plural) is ‘al-who-slee-ithani.’ Could this rough translation by a non-native speaker mean that the fox testicles drink is actually a singular fox testicle drink and we just don’t understand? Does this also imply that there is an ‘al-makhsy’ (eunuch) drink that will be introduced next? Maybe al-makhsy is what they call the sahlab if you are running low on fox testicles that day or want your sahlab vegan?
While it is unclear if you will be able to vamp up your love life with a fox testicles drink from the Middle East, you can make it at home. Recipes online, like one from the Green Prophet, note that all you need to make the fox testicles drink Arab-style is flour made from orchid tubers, a whole lot of milk, and plenty of spices. To top it off, you can add rosewater, minced pistachios, and cinnamon.
If you want to try a different recipe, consider the fox testicles drink that is being developed in New York City. The Forward blog that originally claimed that the fox testicles drink was going to take New York City by storm interviewed the restaurant owner who wants to introduce it to Americans. Mighty Pie‘s Simon Oren got chef Mario Urgiles to spice it up in a way Americans would like it. Urgiles told Forward the following.
“We prepare it in-house with hot milk and hot water, then finish it with orange blossom. I add just a little vanilla. Then we serve it with coconut flakes, cinnamon powder, chopped pistachios and raisins.”
[All images from Wikimedia Commons.]