Lately the tahini manufacturer Al-Arz has taken a very public stance in favor of LGBTQ rights, sparking an uproar in the Arab community. CEO Julia Zaher made a contribution to an association for LGBTQ Arab Israelis, which triggered a widespread call in some Arab communities to boycott the company’s sesame seed paste. In response to that reaction, Tel Avivians began buying Al-Arz tahini in droves as a show of support. And now, about a month after the “tahini pride” event, another big moment has arrived for Al-Arz: the launch of the first tahini popsicle.
To achieve this, Al-Arz joined forces with Tamara Yogurt in Tel Aviv, maker of dairy-free frozen yogurt and ice cream. Halvah ice cream based on raw tahini is nothing new, but the new ice pop is the real thing. Down to the roasted sesame seeds.
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We made our way to the Tamara branch closest to the newsroom only to find that the tahini popsicles were sold out: Tel Avivians tend to snap up whatever the latest “hot” thing is. Undaunted, we walked to another Tamara branch in the scorching heat and were rewarded with the new tahini treat, for 12 shekels a pop.
Was it worth it? Well, let’s start with the fine print. The popsicle contains 20 percent Al-Arz tahini and 5 percent date syrup (silan), and the rest is almond milk and coconut milk. It’s 100 percent vegan.
Now, let’s get to the first lick. First of all: this was real tahini. Not imitation in any way, but real, cold, deep and authentic tahini flavor, with tahini’s hallmark lingering “astringency” and all. It’s powerfully tahini-ish but the flavor is very balanced, making the pop is pleasing to eat. The roasted sesame would have been a brilliant addition in a restaurant dessert, but with a popsicle – which is supposed to be fun and easy, the sesame just gets in the way of the perfect lick.
And now to the big question – How much halvah can you eat? If the answer is more than one square, then this is the perfect popsicle for you. If you’re among the larger population for whom one square of halvah is more than enough, think of this more as a “winter popsicle.” Its certain heaviness, together with the delightful taste of cold tahini, makes it ideal for rainy days when the taste buds are craving some sweet consolation. It’s also great for adults who want to avoid following their kids into the bottomless sugar pit of regular ice cream. The popsicle does contain two and a half teaspoons of sugar, but it’s still way healthier than any other popsicle out there.
In these parts, kids may dip everything in ketchup but adults dip everything in tahini. It’s no less than a national Israeli food. This popsicle may not quite do justice to the food it is based on. Tahini is a food that needs something beside it, hence the urge to add the toasted sesame seeds to it is understandable, but they don’t achieve the possible aim of providing a crunchy added pleasure.