The recipe for sharbat (syrup mixed with snow) was first invented in ancient times in the Middle East, in today’s Iran and Turkey. This delicacy spread across the Arab world and reached Europe in the 16th century, where it became know as sherbet or sorbet.
The first decorative moulds, like the one shown here, appeared in the 18th century. Desserts made in them gave gourmet dinners a new elegance and sophistication.
After being filled, the mould is plunged in crushed ice and salt, which rapidly reduces its temperature. As it cools, the sorbet takes on the form of the mould – in this case, that of a bird.
Even though ice-cream churns came on the market in the 19th century, and electric ice-cream makers in the 1990s, ice-cream moulds similar to this one, which were produced between 1850 and 1950, are still in use. Today they are no longer made of metal but of plastic or silicone and, once filled, they can just be put in the freezer.
Cooking, eating, purchasing, digesting, 2003. Vevey: Alimentarium, p. 12.