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Everything posted by sazji

  1. Well, I think popping them into your mouth is a perfectly fine way to deal with them! I don't know of any other treatmet actually. I'll be up in Taksim later today and drop by Haci Bekir's.
  2. I'll comment on the "eating/food preparation on the floor" posts together. In eastern Turkey I was struck by how almost every room of the house can be a multi-purpose room. Beds are rolled up and stacked when not in use, there is no table, just a cloth to shake out; people sit on cusions with harder cusions for backrests; all of this is easily transportable/rearrangeable. Many villagers there, as well as in western Turkey, recently led at leat seminomadic lifestyles. In the summer you went up to the mountain meadows with the flocks and lived in tents woven of goathair. When people were settled (sometimes forcibly as with many of the Turkish tribes by the Ottoman government less than 200 years ago), they brought this way of living into permanent dwellings. Also, many dishes like sarma (stuffed grape leaves) or foods that require lots of rolling and cutting of dough are labor-intensive. I have counter space in my kitchen but when I'm doing things like shelling beans or rolling sigara böreği I'll take it into the living room, put down a newspaper and do it sitting on the floor. It's must more comfortable than leaning over a counter. (Just as back home I'd do that stuff sitting at the kitchen table.) That would definitely not fly in a Turkish home! Kitchens are generally meticulously clean, and though people do have a soft spot for cats (not so much for dogs), they aren't "four-legged people" in the local mind. A cat or dog who dared stick its face into food for human consumption would probably not try it again if it had any sense of self-preservation...!
  3. I'll comment on the "eating/food preparation on the floor" posts together. In eastern Turkey I was struck by how almost every room of the house can be a multi-purpose room. Beds are rolled up and stacked when not in use, there is no table, just a cloth to shake out; people sit on cusions with harder cusions for backrests; all of this is easily transportable/rearrangeable. Many villagers there, as well as in western Turkey, recently led at leat seminomadic lifestyles. In the summer you went up to the mountain meadows with the flocks and lived in tents woven of goathair. When people were settled (sometimes forcibly as with many of the Turkish tribes by the Ottoman government less than 200 years ago), they brought this way of living into permanent dwellings. Also, many dishes like sarma (stuffed grape leaves) or foods that require lots of rolling and cutting of dough are labor-intensive. I have counter space in my kitchen but when I'm doing things like shelling beans or rolling sigara böreği I'll take it into the living room, put down a newspaper and do it sitting on the floor. It's must more comfortable. (Just as back home I'd do that stuff sitting at the kitchen table.) That would definitely not fly in a Turkish home! Kitchens are generally meticulously clean, and though people do have a soft spot for cats (not so much for dogs), they aren't "four-legged people" in the local mind. A cat or dog who dared stick its face into food for human consumption would probably not try it again if it had any sense of self-preservation...!
  4. Yes, but as Istanbul has an estimated population of around 15 million, it's not easy to control. The area of Avcılar was very badly damaged in the quake and many buildings were torn down; since then other buildings have also been declared unsafe and razed. But I remember reading an article mentioning that a good 50 percent of the buildings in the area of Zeytinburnu were sub-standard (this is an area that was mostly gecekondu in the 80s and since then has gone almost entirely to multistory cement apartment blocks). A big earthquake here is not going to be pretty. I always think about it when I move - up to now I've lived in older buildings in Beyoglu which have gone through several; now I'm in a two-story brick building that was built in the 40s - the kind that almost always is left standing. I personally would rather be in a gecekondu (you'll get some wood, plaster and possible some roof tiles on top of you if it collapses) than an 80s-and-after apartment building! Yes lentil soup is common here, made from both green and red lentils. The soups are mostly pureed and made from hulled lentils, often cooked with other vegetables before pureeing. Spicy lamb sausages - not something I've had but maybe it exists in the E. Mediterranean area. If I ever get there I'll do an entire blog on that region! I am hoping to go to Çiya restaurant sometime this week; it's the only place I know that specializes in home cooking from S/SE Turkey. I'll try to remember and ask the chef there about them. Orange blossom water - it's available but I've never had it in anything; here in Istanbul rosewater is the perferred flower water. But once again, it might be used in the Antep region; the border between Antep and Aleppo is a fairly recent phenomenon after all.
  5. If it's the "bread kataif" that you love, I can post a recipe. Most people just buy it dried and reconstitute it with the hot syrup but it's not that hard to make. The shredded wheat type is not one that you can easily make at home; they make it by pouring a very thin wheat flour batter through a pourer with a line of small holes in sweeping circular motion, then scrape it off as soon as it sets.
  6. Yep. Actually one of my best friends works for Remax.
  7. My mom remembers this walnut candy from when she was a girl living in Greece. Evidently there it was also dipped repeatedly. The Turkish one is easier as far as I know; the juice/molasses is thickened with cornstarch. It's actually the forerunner to lokum, which was invented once refined sugar became available. They are good; I'd love to try the one dipped over and over, I'd imagine it would be more intense. I don't think it's made in Greece any more; they thicken theirs with flour and it didn't make me do backflips. As for Turkey's climate - well, Istanbul winters are similar to Seattle's, as they are in the Black Sea area. It stands to reason actually, lots of water, a mountain range. I'd call Seattle's climate a "cool mediterranean" climate. But in the summer it's quite hot and humid here. Luckily we mostly have a breeze and that saves us. I play saz/bağlama (the long lute-like instrument in the previous photos; the one playing is the person I'm learning most from these days). A video - we'll see.
  8. Good morning....no pictures of myself just yet because I'm still so jet lagged (no sleep night before last, about 4 hours last night) that I'm looking and feeling like a living dead. Oy. So, breakfast. I'm not a particularly Turkish breakfaster. I have only a marginal relationship with tomatoes, early morning is too early. The very un-local beverage of choice was Sumatra coffee from Cafe Vita in Seattle (good coffee is very hard to find in Turkey so I bring it or have it brought...I think of it as a tax...) Bread, Nutella (yes that's a finger swipe...quality control, y'know), Trader Joe's peanut butter (organic, creamy), egg (4 minutes), homemade blood orange marmelade (this I highly recommend!) and a couple pieces of beyaz peynir ("white cheese," known elsewhere as "feta"). By the way, though in the east the "sofra" is a cloth spread on the floor, in central and western Turkey it is often a low table like the one above. Most houses don't have a dining room per se; the modern sofras have folding legs and are packed up and rolled behind something when not in use. Or they just use a big metal tray and put it onto a big plastic tub, which puts it at an ideal height. Often a much larger tablecloth is put on, each person takes his section and puts it in his/her lap. When the meal is over, it's rolled up and shaken off the balcony to the benefit of pigeons, and the detriment of passersby. Actually "sofra" can be translated into "any place you normally eat food from," and to invite someone to dinner is "sofraya davet etmek" - to invite to the dining table. So for more citified/westernized Turks, the regular dining table is just as much a "sofra" as any of the others. Exotic foods: People are often surprised to find that good coffee is a hard-to-come-by commodity here. It's not that you can't get coffee; it's just that a coffee that responds well to the Turkish way of preparing it tastes...well, almost acceptable actually when brewed as espresso, but when you do drip/french press for some reason it is foul. One problem is that imported items are heavily taxed here. 100 g. of coffee beans from Gloria Jeans, last time I checked (which was a couple years ago) was 5 lira, or about $3.75 US. Multiply by 5 - that's close to $19 a pound! And that's a lot for a Turkish salary. A few foods that can't be bought here (just looking at my latest haul): unsweetened chocolate sweetened condensed milk evaporated milk grits sweet potatoes cranberries pecans parmesan cheese (available but extremely expensive) bacon (meaning pork bacon - available at around 40 dollars a pound) (or any pork products for that matter) vegetable shortening Certain "exotica" are now available because of the priveleged class that can travel and is exposed to them - things like coconut milk fish sauce, maple syrup (priced according to the gold standard), but they are really luxury items for me here. But some things have caught on and are produced locally like soy sauce (but...it's the first soy sauce I ever got that molded in the bottle!), and fresh ginger (still expensive but around 9 dollars a kilo, down from 25 or so a few years ago). So when I go back home, there is a "list of things I must eat." This time it was pho, sushi, dim sum, a real hamburger, good pizza, and American ice cream. My mother was quite obliging on this last point...so when I went there there was lots of that in the freezer! As she can't eat too much sweet stuff, the duty fell to me. My pants feel tight....
  9. It's extra quality dried figs! About tea - when you go to a pastry/börek shop there is usually a choice between a large or small tea. Though at home most people use the small glasses (probably cause mom's always there to keep filling them) people who want a bit more when they eat out will usually get a large tea. It may be a teacup with a handle or just a large glass. But it's always glass; tea must be drunk from glass! As for the fingers - funny about that, it used to get me too but not any more. If it's really really hot and it's to the edge, then you just wait a minute or so. Usually it's far enough below the edge that it's not an issue; you just have to have a steady hand. A little finger usually goes below to support the blass as well. In cold weather they fit nicely into cold hands...
  10. Today was not outstanding in terms of food, so I'll supplement with pictures of things I didn't eat. But it was an interesting day nontheless. The sister-in-law of a musician friend got engaged today. The families are Zazas from the area of Tunceli and Bingöl. Zazas are a non-Turkic people sometimes associated with the Kurds but though their language is in the same group it is not intelligible to Kurds. Some are Sunni muslim, others are Alevi (see below). I decided to grab a little something before starting the somewhat long bus ride to İkitelli Köy, a small (former) village on the west side of Istanbul that is in the process of being engulfed by the city. I went to the Simit Sarayi. About 4 years ago, somebody got the idea to elaborate on the basic simit (the sesame-covered bread rings sold all over Turkey), and started Simit Sarayi, or Simit Palace. They offered cheese, olive, sucuk (a type of sausage) and olive-filled simit, as well as a variety of cakes, pastries and cookies, and drinks. The concept took off, and as with everything that succeeds here, many rushed to copy them. Now there is Simithan, Simitçi, and other simit places, all essentially the same, and sometimes side-by-side in true Starbuck's style competitiveness. I saw something new - a simit with kavurma, essentially meat that is simmered in its own fat till very tender. It certainly looked good! It tasted...fatty. Luckily the tea was strong! The traffic was moving pretty well and I got to İkitelli in about an hour. When I got to the house, the women were already busy in the kitchen making the meal to feed all the guests. Actually food at weddings and other such occasions, especially in the case of villagers in the East, is often not at all elaborate. It might be bulgur boiled with mutton. Today it was rice pilalf, boiled chicken and beans, with ayran (yogut mixed with water and often salted). People in the east generally spread a cloth called a sofra, and eat sitting on the floor. Here is a picture of a couple houses, not particularly old, in İkitelli Köy. Most of the original stone houses of the village are tumbling down. These are probably gecekondu, literally "alit at night," which refers to houses that are built illegally, and often overnight —at least the front walls— with the help of many friends, so that in the morning there is for all appearances a brand new house that was not there the day before! There are streets of regular cement apartment blocks surrounding the village as well. At the celebration there was music and dancing, and the bride-to-be received small gifts and wishes from relatives. Most of the singing was in Kurdish because the singer was Kurdish, and these people do mostly the same dances. Click here for a short video of some of the dancing! Unfortunately it was actually quite dark in the room and it was hard to get good pictures there. Here is a relative of my friend with a typical headscarf decorated with oya. In the east women mostly wear white headscarves. These are Alevis, who belong to a "heterodox" sect of Islam (many would not call themselves muslims). Men and women worship together, and there is no segregation of men and women. Woman are not required by their religion to cover but many village women do simply because it's traditional. On the way back, I decided to take some pictures of some of the shops on the road from the bus stop to my house, just to get some more food in my post! Here there is still a significant degree of specialization. If you want dried fruits and nuts (known collectively as kuruyemiş, or dry foods, you go to a kuruyemişçi. On the far left are bottles of boza, a sweet-sour fermented (non-alcoholic) drink made from millet. This one is also selling çevizli sucuk, literally "walnut sausage," which is strings of walnuts dipped in grape juice or grape molasses thickened with wheat starch. I seem to have had a sweet tooth because I kept getting drawn to the sweet shops. Many people know "kadayıf" or "kataifi" in its Greek rendition, a shredded-wheat-like pastry. But other things are known as kadayıf as well. Here is ekmek kadayıfı or "bread kataif," which is soakedin syrup and filled with kaymak, or clotted buffalo cream. It is one of very few sweets I really just can't take more than a bite or two of. Another place was selling all manner of deep fried syrup pastries, notably tulumba (which means "pump"), the oblong large and small pastries in the very front, (being poured into the pan) lokma (the round ones in the back) and halka tatlısı or "circle sweet." The llatter is also very commonly sold by street vendors, probably because it's the easiest to hold and eat. And no mention of Turkish would be complete without some baklava! Here we have rolled walnut baklava and pistachio roll, which is almost all pistachio. The other one in the middle is şekerpare, which is a bit like a soft crumbly cookie or cake soaked in syrup. I'm thinking of making a trip to one of the really good baklava places to elaborate on that. Enjoy!
  11. Well...it's very similar to Greek yogurt in Greece, but if by "Greek" yogurt you mean the Fage brand and imitators that are sold in the US and western Europe...actually I'd have to say that "Greek" yogurt has almost nothing to do with Greek yogurt, much less Turkish yogurt! That was the one thing that I was most intolerant of on my trip back to the US - I didn't find a single kind of yogurt I could stand! They all had various gums/gelatins/thickeners, and just didn't taste like yogurt to me. Actually I was living in Greece when Fage first hit the market. Many people there didn't like it at all, and of those who did, most would only use it for something like tzatziki, not for actual eating plain. Everyone was convinced it had skim milk powder, which the company denied, but a friend of mine actually found a lump of undissolved powder in her Fage. Now they seem to be used to it, and all the sweetened yogurts, unknown 20 years ago, are quite normal now. There might be something like that in Turkey now but I can't say I'm aware of it. There are lots of brands of yogurt though. Probably the best is Tikvesli, it's made with real whole milk, slightly yellow, with a nice skin (kaymak) on the top. Other good ones are Çoban and Itimat (an inexpensive dairy product outlet).
  12. Hmmm...now making alcohol out of them might work; the taste is actually fairly good. Apricot-like. Definitely try one! They are all over Seattle, too.
  13. Well, you did more than lots of other foreigners who come here! I think that's why many Turks assume "all or nothing" - if you speak a little Turkish, you must understand everything, because people tend to either really put in an effort or not at all. It's one of those learning curve things...there's a woman here who came over 16 years ago and decided right away that she couldn't learn. Her street is called "Asmalımescit" and she pronounces it "Ass-molly-medgit." Which we have distorted to "A Smelly Midget." It will never bet the same.... Overall I love the food of course, though certain things can get tiresome - the enless "fry an onion in lots of oil, throw in some tomato/pepper paste and whatever else you have" kind of foods common in some of the buffet type restaurants. Home cooking is something else entirely. I still cannot eat tripe, and kokoreç (intestines wrapped around liver, kidney etc. and roasted on a spit) only about 10 percent of the time, when they leave out the core of fat in the middle. Mostly its the quality and freshness of ingredients that I'm in love with. When I came here the first time, it was still under a military regime as well; I crossed over from Greece to Ayvalik. The military security soldiers with the uzis at every bus stop demanding ID was pretty intimidating. Istanbul went off military rule the night I left! There is still work to be done but Turkey has changed a lot since then, both good and bad. The good is of course the incredible change in human rights, with minority language/cultural restrictions lifted. The bad is an incredible consumerism; and the blind acceptance of just about anything that comes from the west. It's like a cultural flash flood. I was struck when I came back in 1996 after 11 years absent, by the proliferation of packaged foods. Lots of younger people, even women, express astonishment that I still make certain foods; they are just "too much trouble" and they never learned. In another 10 years will Turkey be like the US in that respect, where you go into a store and find "aisles and ailes of 'food' and nothing to eat?" I hope not!
  14. Istanbul is fairly hot and humid in the summer with rain up into early July or so, rare after that. In the autum the rains start again. But there are also lots of microclimates here - I'm close to the Marmara sea, and this summer got almost no rain after early May. Sometimes I'd sit on my porch in the sun watching thunderstorms go over Taksim (just a couple kilometers away), which was getting flooded. Frustrating as I really needed rain! The winter is comparable to Seattle, perhaps with a few more sunbreaks. Mostly gray and cool, light freezes at night but occasional cold snaps and snow. The country has a wide variety of climates. The Black Sea is overall mild, subtropical in some areas (they used to grow mandarins in the E. Black Sea before they began growing tea in the early part of the century). The Mediterranean area has hot dry summers and cool mild winters; at the southernmost point they grow avocadoes and bananas. The most severe climates are inland - Erzurum is known for extremely cold winters, and in the southeast near the Syrian and Iraqi borders summer temps of 110 (45 C plus...) and above are fairly common. I was there last winter and we had lots of 70 degree days (20 C).
  15. I was just back in the US for a month and stopped by Value Village (a big thrift store) in Seattle. I was amazed/amused at the sheer number of such specialized cooking inventions. A sandwich griller (the frying pan doesn't work?), a hot dog heater, an egg poacher, a hamburger former. I don't know if it's about laziness or just the passion for new gadgets. But they sure were cheap!
  16. So, onto blogging. I should be in bed really but I just got back a few days ago from a month in the US, and am terribly jet-lagged; I was sleepy at 5 this evening but not now! Well, one blogger started a day late, so I don’t suppose it’s cheating to start a day "early!" Meaning that I had such a nice food day yesterday that I couldn't not share it. And today was pretty pedestrian in terms of food - a cup of coffee (albeit Sumatra from Cafe Vita in Seattle), a banana, several mandarins, and a kır pidesi (well, pretty pedestrian here, and it wasn't a good one). Having just returned from Seattle, my friend Ferda called me and invited me to a nice day of “re-entry.” Ferda owns a great little “home cooking” restaurant in Istanbul’s Taksim district (which I’ll definitely be visiting this week), and is an enthusiastic traveler and lover of good food. She’ll call and say “Bob, [so-and-so]’s mother is here and she made a batch of [such-and-such] from their village, it’s amazing, you have to come right now!” She has a lovely little house on Burgazadası, the second of the Prince’s Islands off the coast of Asian Istanbul. The weather being beautiful, we decided to eat breakfast on the boat, which takes about an hour. I brought an açma (a light buttery bun) with olive, and a portion of cheese su böreği, a baked dish with “phyllo” of thin rolled noodle dough which is boiled and layered with a filling. There’s a lot of mediocre mile-high su böreği in Istanbul but we have a place in our neighborhood (Kocamustafapaşa) that makes a wonderful home-style one with lots of real butter. Ferda brought salad makings — a salad of some sort, or at least sliced tomatoes and cucumbers is an indispensable part of a Turkish breakfast — and olives, sandwiches with cream cheese, string cheese, pastirma and beef ham. Also indispensable is strong tea in narrow glasses, which Ferda bought on board the ship. We could have had simit (sesame bread rings) as well, but we already had plenty of bread. Along with the tea guys, the simit sellers are a permanent fixture on the ferries. You'll also see them walking through the streets of Istanbul with these trays expertly balanced on their heads. We also had musical accompaniment provided by 5 young guys with a guitar! When we got to the island, we went to where the fishermen bring in their catch. It pays to be very careful when buying fish in the markets in Istanbul; unscrupulous dealers will often try and slip in a less-than-fresh one to people who don't know how to choose. They also sometimes use some sort of trick to make their gills stay red and point to those as a sign of freshness, but when the eyes are sunken and cloudy... The ones here are very dependable; much of what they have is still alive. Todays’ offerings: lüfer (3-year-old bluefısh), sarıkanat, (2-year-old bluefısh), istavrit (which I didn’t know in English but seslisozluk informs me is "horse mackerel," Trachurus trachurus), and hamsi, a small sardine-like fish that travels in huge schools in the Black Sea and is the main protein source there. Τurkish is interesting in that for several fish there are different names according to the age/size of the fish. Lüfer migrates from the Black Sea into the Bosphorus each fall, fully fatted, and is amazing. We took the sarıkanat, which means literally “yellow wing,” because at that stage, the fins are distinctly yellow. After hanging out at the house a bit, we took off into nature to collect wild greens. There are many, many different edible plants growing on the island according to the season. Right now the best are mallow, nettle, and wild mustard. I picked a good bunch of wild mustard, steamed it, and dressed it with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. I must confess, though this is a distinctly Greek way to prepare greens, if I were "really" Greek the greens would not be nearly so brilliant because I would have boiled them a lot longer... Wild mustard: before Wild mustard: after Ferda also picked a lot of Arbutus unedo fruit. Also known as strawberry tree, A. unedo is common on the islands. The latin name "unedo" means "I eat one," because one is plenty for most people. Here they are known as kocayemiş, koca meaning "great big" and yemiş being the blanket term for all sorts of berries and nuts. The flavor is not bad but it is covered with a layer of gritty points that you can't really take off, and full of seeds to boot. Imagine trying to scrape sand off a soft chocolate truffle you dropped on the beach...and once you do, find that it already had gravel in it. I had one and spent about five minutes spitting out the grit. More for her! We had a nice dinner on their patio which overlooks a small bay. I won’t show the cooked fish because despite all Ferda’s efforts, it stuck to the grill. But ıt was great. Many fish lovers here say "never never never put lemon on fish." I do, I like it, I get chewed out for it, but to each his own. Here’s our dining table... That's it for tonight. Tomorrow morning I'm going out to İkitelli Köy, a village that has been subsumed into the sprawl of Istanbul, for breakfast with friends from Tunceli, followed by an engagement party. So it will be evening here before I'll be back online.
  17. Behemoth - I was a Russian major actually! My father was a professor of music at the U.I., my mother was a professional cellist (and is still a fine musician) but left the profession to be a mom. Pan - thanks for the good word!
  18. INTRODUCTION-BACKGROUND So I’ve been thinking for weeks now about what kind of things to put in this blog, images of food porn dancing in my head, fantasizing about the nice restaurants this will give me a good excuse to go to, and predicting the looks I’ll get when the waiters watch me photographing everything brought to our table. But I didn’t really think much about the introduction. Now it’s a day before I’m to start and suddenly I have to think about this! My real name is Bob Beer, I’m nominally a Seattleite (14 years) and I’ve been living in Istanbul, Turkey for around 6 years now. The original reason I came here was to study Turkish folk music, as well as learn Turkish well (I work as a translator). And of course, eat and learn to make at least my favorite dishes. I am not nor have I ever been a food professional; I’m just a person who likes good food, and is drawn to what is different. I remember as a kid begging my mother to buy a persimmon in the grocery store — they were terribly expensive — because the idea of a fruit I had never tasted was so alluring. Years later I spent 10 dollars I didn’t have to try durian for the first time. (Fortunately I loved it.) A random note that doesn't fit into the flow - the pictures in the teaser are 1) a view from my garden to the mosque next door, 2) a boy in our local weekly neighborhood market selling snake gourds, and 3) a cup of strong Turkish tea in the typical glass. My mother is a southerner and the daughter of a Greek restaurateur (he was Greek, the restaurant wasn’t but he was a damn good cook in any case) from Marmara Island, about 2 hours west of here by fast ferry. You might imagine that I grew up eating lots of Greek food, but mom was married to a meat-and-potatoes man whose mother was, by all accounts, a horrible cook. Chicken was boiled. Steaks were fried-till-dead, then incarcerated in milk gravy and boiled further. My dad was thus very finicky about food and many a meal was begun with a tentative sniff, and a “....what’s this?” (The groaning buffet table to which we were invited at a Chinese friend’s house was a wonderland for me; to him I think it was more like a chamber of horrors, the little whole octopuses and thousand-year-old egg topping the list of terrifying surprises...) Greek food? “Hrumph! Why do they keep putting cinnamon in the beef?” Lamb? Mom tried feeding it to him once, convinced that he wouldn’t even recognize it. He did. I was a kid who ate pretty much everything except fresh tomatoes; the rule for my brother and I was that we had to try everything. My brother took on more after my dad, I took after my mom. So aside from some really good sweets around Christmas, Greek food happened mostly on those weekends when my dad was out of town, much to my brother’s dismay. To be fair, my first taste of feta cheese made me want to hurl... And we both did like yogurt, which we always had around, because my mom made her own, not a common thing in Iowa in the 60s. We called it "yiaourti," I didn’t even know it had any other name. I remember one of my playmates almost gagging when we fed him some. When I was growing up, my dad was a grad student and mom a housewife, so we ate cheaply and mostly out of cans; more Spam than I care to think about. Mom was a pretty good cook actually but I think tended to see it mostly as a job and not something to get really creative with unless there was company. I don’t think I ever had fresh beans or peas till I was in around 6th grade and my mom planted a big garden. That was a revelation. Various things spurred me to really get interested in food. I had a good friend in 7th grade from Taiwan, and I ate at their house a lot. Living for a summer and then a year in Greece (where I discovered that tomatoes could be edible and nearly everything was made from scratch) was definitely another one. The first cookbook I ever bought was on that trip. For a while there I made bread every week. I grew up in Iowa City, Iowa. When I moved out of the house, I went to Champaign, Ill., and was exposed to a wok for the first time. There was a big Asian food store there, and all these mysterious ingredients! I still can’t cook Chinese worth a damn though. My first trip to Turkey was in 1982, for 2 weeks, and I instantly fell in love with the country, its people and its food. I was living in Greece at the time so it was fascinating to see the different takes on things that were very familiar, as well as things completely new to me. I also was dismayed to find that recipes I found for some of these foods in cookbooks in the west came out tasting very different from the way they tasted in Turkey. Milk is not milk, yogurt is definitely not yogurt, and pepper paste is...more or less nonexistent. Yeah, it's all in the pepper paste! Most of the time, I eat fairly simply. My own cooking habits are strongly influenced by my time in Greece. I suppose if I were writing this blog from Greece, I’d say my cooking habits are heavily influenced by my time in Turkey. It’s a relatively new border, with Greeks and Turks on both sides of it, what the heck! I’m not vegetarian but I don’t eat lots of meat. I cook for myself a lot but don’t usually go all-out unless I have guests. So this blog should offer a good opportunity to make some good food, go to some of my favorite (if not necessarily upscale) restaurants, and take you on a virtual tour of some of the wonderful food markets here. Of course I’ll take suggestions as well: If there’s something you’d like to see (excluding the cuisine served in a Turkish jail), just ask. TURKISH PRONUNCIATION I’ll be using lots of Turkish words, so here is a quick guide to pronunciation for those who are curious. That way I can write a word like “İmam Bayıldı” without constantly having to include hideous transliterations like “ee-MAHM bah-yuhl-DUH” in parentheses. Or you can go to the online Turkish/English dictionary http://www.seslisozluk.com and hear the words pronounced. You have to become a member for that function, but it’s free. You may have to change your encoding for these to display properly. If you are seeing letters like “þ” or “ý,” then you need to choose View > Encoding > Turkish on your browser. Turkish is 99% phonetically written. Maybe 98%. The vowels are: a - father e - bet (Or, if you are the Turkish equivalent of a valley girl, a drawn out, nasal a as in “bad...” If you want to hear a masterful imitation of Turkish valley girl, I can direct you. ) ı - somewhere between butter and wood. Capital: I i - about halfway between bit and beet. Capital: İ o - roll ö - close to the German ö u - tool ü - close to the German ü The consonants are pretty much as you might expect with the exception of: c - jet ç - cheese ğ - lengthens the preceding vowel j - Zsa Zsa ş - shoot
  19. sazji

    celeriac tops

    I make celeriac in olive oil and if the leaves and stems are in good condition (often they are curled and split), I chop some and put it in just before I add the water. Recipe - Celeriac with Olive Oil
  20. Wow, my teeth hurt from just *looking* at that! I hope it freezes well... And then you can make it from scratch: http://recipes.egullet.org/recipes/r1636.html Somewhere on eGullet there is a thread about dulce de leche with another recipe as well. I can't get sweetened condensed milk where I live so I make it from scratch and it comes out great! I found that if you cook it really hot, it gets thick before it gets dark (you have to add water to keep it from becoming like glue). I did get some condensed milk from Greece and tried boiling a can, did it way too long and got the very dark result...it was *not* good. I find it interesting that it can get dark with just heat but no actual evaporation of liquid. But them I was never very good at chemistry....
  21. Celeriac with Olive Oil (Zeytinyağlı Kereviz) Serves 6 as Appetizer. This is one of the typical "Olive Oil" dishes of Istanbul and coastal Turkey. It's typically served cold or lukewarm as a "meze" or as an appetizer before a meal. medium celeriacs medium carrots, cubed c good olive oil tsp flour tsp sugar lemon 5 sprigs italian parsley T fresh dill salt to taste Peel celeriac and cut either into chunks or into slightly concave slices (do this by inserting the knife from the side at a slightly downward angle and cutting around). Chop onions and cube carrots. Heat oil in a pan, add carrots and sautee for 2 minutes, add onions and sautee 2 minutes more. Add flour and continue stirring, add water to cover. Try and arrange pieces so you will need the least amont of water possible, i.e. pack them closely. Add sugar and juice of half the lemon, taste, add more if necessary (it's a matter of taste). Add salt. Add chopped parsley and celeriac tops if desired. Bring to boil, turn down the heat and simmer for around half an hour, till celeriac is tender. Add a tablespoon of chopped dill, cover and let stand. Let cool completely (these dishes are eaten room temp or cold). If you have cut slices, take a slice and put on small plate, then heap some of the onions and carrots in the center. Garnish with fresh dill and add a squeeze of lemon when serving. Some people add a cubed potato to the mix as well; you would sautee this together with the carrot. Sauteeing it for a bit keeps it from breaking up during the cooking. Keywords: Appetizer, Vegetables, Middle Eastern, Vegan, Brunch, Vegetarian, Lunch, Easy, Dinner ( RG1892 )
  22. I like peanut butter and bacon. And as a kid I regularly had peanut butter and miracle whip. I also used to disgust my friends in Greece by getting a "Rox" (a Salonica specialty consisting of a shallow, open phyllo shell filled with walnut cake and soaked in thick syrup), putting it into a plate and dumping a small container of sheepsmilk yogurt on top. Yumm, I can still remember it. They thought I was completely insane.
  23. People who are hungry and need to take advantage of what is locally available in a hot, mostly unarable region! Edited because I somehow missed the "2006" in the title of this thread. So for 2006, the most awful thing was, believe it or not, this: I obviously bought it for the box which was just classic. But then I figured, "I spent 2 lira for it, I might as well try it," expecting something like gerber baby food pudding. Uh-uh. It was like cornstarch-thickened water mixed with a little skim milk. The ingredients say: Rice flour, Grinded sugar (sic), Lactose, Powdered milk without fat, Serum proteins, Vegetable oil, Lactoferrin, Vitamins (bla bla bla), natural equivalent vanilla aroma. Almost as entertaining are the instructions:
  24. Hmmm, haven't had anything pop out of my kitchen for a while that really belonged here, but once in a while we get lucky! Visiting my mom in Arkansas, she's been making skinned chicken thighs in the microwave for dinner lately. She'd thawed some out, and I was planning something different, but turned around and found she'd already started the process. So I intervened, cut the meat off the bones, sauteed it with some onion and garlic...decided I wanted to make something like a cream sauce but of course no cream...I wonder if milk will reduce with butter and get thick...it didn't really...so I added some feta which often melts nicely...but had it too hot and it curdled...and anyway... It tasted "okay."
  25. Probably something similar to the slogan MacDonalds uses for its Lenten fast-appropropriate menu in Greece (MacSarakosti - MacLent): "The Custom that Became Tradition." ???? Whatever...
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