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Posts posted by sazji

  1. But when I stopped to really focus on the two "puddings" I realized that of course they would not be the same because wheat that is only fifteen or twenty days old is *not* likely to have such big mature kernels.  :biggrin:

    I've had an Iranian version called "samanoo," also made before Nowrooz. It's quite different for a couple reasongs - the sugar comes from the sprouted wheat. In that sense it's sort of a "malt pudding." Also the cooking time is long so what is left of the wheat kernel is quite broken down. It's dark brown.

  2. You can have Muhamara 50km from Aleppo or in the Outer Hebridies. The fact of the matter is to preserve the taste integrity of the dish, I would be delighted to have Muhamara made with Olive Oil, Pomegrenate, walnuts....etc from the same place and preferably eating in Aleppo as well.

    This is quiet complicated and difficult and the solution is to adapt the dish to use ingredients from other sources. It will still be good but will never taste the same.

    The dish originates from Aleppo and at least this should be established and recognized as such.

    Okay, this thread has me wanting to run buy a ticket to Aleppo and eat muhammara made by as many different people as possible. :)

    We are dealing with two different issues here.

    1) Are local ingredients important to the authenticity of a dish? Definitely. Or to put it another way, they are vital to awaken the "food memory" of a place. I make a Turkish dish based on pepper and tomato paste, red pepper flakes, walnuts and olive oil. In the states I can adapt it and get something quite close but without the pepper paste (which is also very variable and in which I have my preferences), and Marash or Antakya pepper, it will never be quite the same. (Which is why I take a kilo each of Marash and Urfa pepper with every trip home..)

    2) Food chauvinism. Five ladies in Istanbul will each have their own variations on any dish, say acılı ezme (the dish I mentioned above). One will add mint. Another will not. Another will pound the walnuts fine, another will add onion. Which one is "the correct one?" They all exist side by side. I'll prefer the one with mint, I may not really get that "wow" from other versions. Should I go tell the others that theirs is not "the" acili ezme? No, because it would be based on my own preference, and it would be obnoxious. Some may "laugh their heads off" at a different version, but in my experience such laughter is imbued with sarcasm.

    Perhaps it did originate in Aleppo. Was it simply invented one day in one form, and never change? Doubtful. Does every cook in Aleppo make it the same way? Also doubtful, as even in one city people have varying tastes; if they didn't, nothing would develop, change or evolve. If one of those cooks decides a little cumin would be nice, is it no longer muhammara? I would love to be a fly on the wall when you go and tell him/her.

    It's easy to sit there and repeat claims, and denounce people's efforts/other versions. But aside from saying "everyone knows it," you have neither backed up your claims, nor provided a recipe of your own to help people at least get close. Are you trying to help? The provide something constructive. Despite being a bit tired of this behavior, I am very interested in tasting something close to an Aleppo-style muhammara; if you can provide a recipe I'll be grateful, and give a shopping list to a friend who goes regularly to Aleppo, though I may cheat and use Turkish walnuts. :)

  3. Okay...this may get pulled (just remove it up to the line if necessary) but I find the sociology of food just as interesting as the food itself.

    Foods develop; we should remember that what we are looking at is a slice of time. Does everyone in Aleppo make it exactly the same way, with exactly the same proprotions? Short of eating in every house in Aleppo, do we have any way of knowing if they do or don't? Can we really say a food has "nothing to do" with a place 50 km away where that food is also made and called by the same name, and has the same basic ingredients (if in different proportions or with the addition/subtraction of something)?


    Here is a version from Antep, which is almost in Syria. Everyone calls it muhammara. I like it. :)

    1 cup pepper flakes

    1 cup walnut meats

    1 slice dry bread, crust removed

    1 c olive oil

    1 T cumin :wink:

    1 T pomegranate molasses or lemon juice

    1 t sugar

    Pound together in a mortar and pestle, or run it through the food processor. It tastes about the same as the version I've had in an Antep restaurant, Çiya.

  4. Interesting, many people around the Mediterranean seem to have special-occasion foods based on boiled hulled whole wheat. It looks very much like a version of what's called "ashure" in Turkey, which is made at the end of the month of Muharrme (also called "Ashure Month" for this reason). Making the Turkish one is quite an undertaking - in addition to wheat, it also has dried apricots, raisins, figs, garbanzos, beans, almonds, walnuts (both peeled), as well as bits of still dry nuts and dried fruits on the top in some versions. Each must be boiled separately before the final combination. Women typically make very large amounts, and share it with all the neighbors.

    The Armenians make a similar thing, a bit simpler, for Christmas, with almonds and apricots. And the Greeks make a dry version called "koliva" which is passed out at funerals, and on later gatherings to remember the deceased - the wheat is boiled, then set out to dry for a day to seal, after which nuts, raisins, spices, toasted flour and powdered sugar is mixed in. At least in some areas they seem to see a connection between koliva and ashure, because one Greek name for it is "kolivozoumi," or "koliva broth."

  5. Probably the scariest meal I ever had was a Kurdish version of that dish...the tripe was *not* white but still rather honey-brown, and I know empirically that they did nothing to take care of the "zankha," which was so "zankhy" that I almost lost it. Inside was rice, nothing else, no spices, nothing. There were also intestines. It was boiled with lamb feet and the entire head as well (which were just fine). Yours sounds quite edible actually; despite a history of bad tripe experiences, I'd definitely try it!

  6. Is the oil smoking madly? If so, don't insert that vintage blown-glass oil/candy thermometer that maxes out at 400F. They blow up real good.

    ...I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall the day you learned that! :laugh:

    Lately my only really dumb thing has been "catching up on other little kitchen tasks while waiting for milk to heat for morning coffee." Just as I'm putting the last cup back on the rack, I find myself thinking, "hmmmstrangefizzingsoundwhatisit...." and by the time I turn around to find the source, it's followed by the sputtering of milk hitting a hot burner. I'm not sure if this belongs here, as the header is, after all, "I will never again," and I've done it three times in the last two weeks. Something about my early morning pre-coffee state-of-awreness I guess. Or a simple case of what one of my friends calls "Alzheimer's Lite." :wacko:

  7. Garlic (nearly “free” already)

    I assume by this you mean it's not worth growing your own?

    I'd go so far as to say that whole heads of fresh garlic aren't worth buying, at least not this time of year, unless you have a source for really good fresh garlic. The stuff I can find in supermarkets is mostly starting to sprout before I even get it home. It's a big hassle to cut the cloves and dig out the green parts.

    A couple months ago I bought the giant plastic container of whole peeled cloves from Costco. I don't have it handy, but it's probably about two pounds of garlic cloves, for just a few bucks. The flavor isn't quite as good as fresh, but it's hassle-free.

    When I was in Seattle I would regularly plant lots of garlic in the fall; not to have garlic heads but for green garlic (i.e. 'scallion stage') in the spring. I really missed it from Greece - they sell garlic at all stages of its development, from single scallions to swollen (but not yet dried/papery) white heads. There's just nothing else like it!

  8. I poured a whole carton of vanilla flavored soy milk into my beef soup. The recipe called for regular, plain soy milk. I tasted the soup and just couldn't quite figure out where the gross sweetness was coming from. And then...it hit me! OOPS!

    I was at a music camp in rural New England once; since the theme was Greek music and dance, they wanted tzatziki. They gave the recipe to the kitchen staff. The tzatziki was the most bizarre awful thing - they had used sweet vanilla-flavored yogurt.

    So my stupid one today is: I had cooked some sausage in a cast-iron pan the other day, on my heating stove (it's a cookstove type). The fat had congealed and as my hot water wasn't ready yet I just put the pan on the stove to warm it, to make it easier to wash. As I was sitting here engrossed in Dometic Goddes' Korean foodblog I became vaguely aware of a smoky smell, but what really made me aware of it was a sudden flash of light as it ignited. Luckily there wasn't really anything handy around to burn, as I didn't have a potholder near me (hehe I've grabbed hot-from-the-oven cast iron pans enough times not to fall for that one!); I had to run to the kitchen to grab a towel and a metal tray to cover the pan. No harm done in the end but nothing like a grease fire in your living room to get the old adrenaline rushing. Sorry, no pictures this time. :laugh:

  9. I just emerged from 2 weeks of work-monkery to check into egullet; what a nice surprise to see your blog! It's nice to have a better idea of who you are and what everyday life is like there. (And to see where that very interesting Korean candy came from, and where the lokum went!) :biggrin: All those tables full of banchan and kimchi and rice cakes and...

    I'm struck by occasional similarities to Turkey in the architecture - the particular style of cement tower - your town looks like lots of Anatolian towns. Are there still neighborhoods with traditional houses? I realize I have absolutely no idea what a traditional Korean home looks like.

    Also the love of grilled meats, the street markets. (Except that ours are almost never so open and easy to walk through/take pictures of!).

    Can you take some close up shots of these "mountain herbs" that show up a lot? I mean in their fresh state. I'd love to have some idea what they actually are.

    Thanks for a great blog!

  10. Living in a predominantly Muslim country, I'm often asked if I actually eat pork. When I say "of course" I generally get screwed up faces, and stories about how disgusting pigs are etc. What's interesting is that a lot of this comes from people who are not devout in any way; some have never set foot in a mosque. One of the most outspoken critics of my disgusting pork eating habits is an atheist! It just goes to show how far-reaching culture is. Here, pig is just not food; it's not much different than snake or horse would be for many Americans.

  11. Smunchy, adj. The consistency of homemade peanut butter of uniform consistency as in smooth peanut butter, but not ground fine enough to actually be smooth.

    Spluck - Any food of mucky thick consistency which, when thrown against the wall, would make a similar sound. Tapioca pudding might be the ultimate spluck.

  12. Re: Eating fruit with knife and fork, Iranians, etc.

    Here too (Turkey) fruit at meals is usually sliced, peeled and put on a plate so it can be eaten with a fork. Of course something like grapes or plums would just be grabbed off the plate. But some people here do take the knife and fork thing to extremes. For example eating a piece of cake with a knife and fork, instead of just the fork. I did see a woman eat an orange once (which started out whole) with a knife and fork. That was absurd. Usually people would cut off the stem end, then make four "scores" lengthwise and peel it easily that way. It's about (perceived) status.

    Come to think of it, I might dump someone who insisted on eating a piece of cake with a knife and fork. :) More likely I would just hide the knife when he wasn't looking...

  13. Okay, my use of the word "primate" was not well-considered.  But there are lots of things that others in the primate family do that I don't think humans should do. 

    I think bananas should be eaten flambeed or buried under ice cream, fudge sauce and whipped cream. 

    I think I would dump anyone who had a problem with me eating fruit fresh!

    Really, I don't think I'd dump someone really great solely on eating habits. At this stage in my life, anyone whose eating habits would get them dumped would probably get dumped before it got to that! (I can think of one or two who should have...but I was young and inexperienced then!)

    Awful table manners are a turnoff; I have "domesticated" a couple friends but never a partner. ;) I don't mind if someone is inexperienced, but unwillingness to try new things, or a complete disinterest in food, would definitely take away points. And I think vegetarians might be out (unless it was a really special vegetarian) because especially in Turkey, you can hardly go anywhere with them!

  14. Brussels Sprouts-- roasted, steamed then sauteed in olive oil with fresh lemon

    Beets-- don't like 'em.

    Broccoli-- any way. steamed, stir fried with oyster sauce, you name it.

    Asparagus-- steamed and dressed with butter or olive oil and lemon. also soup

    Cauliflower-- indian style, also deep fried and served with lemon tahini sauce

    Peas-- boiled/steamed with butter.

    Cabbage-- steamed and served as a warm salad with lemon, olive oil, red pepper, cumin, salt, pepper, mint.

    Radishes-- fresh

    Zucchini-- slice thin, fry till browned, add garlic, urfa pepper, tomato, parsley, cook till tomato is slightly soft, then pour over beaten eggs, and a handful of feta cheese. Cover and cook at lowest possible heat till just firm.

    Mushrooms-- sauteed in butter, in sauces

  15. I will never again wonder what happens if you bake an egg (in its shell) in the oven. Because now I know. I did poke an egg in the large end to avoid an explosion, and was partly successful at that. I think the biggst problem was that I forgot it was in the oven (said oven being part of my wood stove which runs a lot this time of year). I came home the next evening, lit the stove, was working away here (I do remember hearing an odd cracking noise at some point...), and started smelling an odd, "toasty" smell. Not nice toasty. I finally opened the oven...and found this:


    I especially like the little "extrusion" on the upper right. Is it art?

    Now I now you are all wondering what the inside looked like. So without further ado:


    I think I'll call it "Eggs Vesuvius."

  16. gallery_26110_4104_360551.jpg

    On the left of the platter are egg based shrimp and green onion cakes from Into the Vietamese Kitchen and on the right are wheat based Peasant Pancakes from a very old book The Chinese People's Cookbook by Mai Leung.

    Any chance of posting the recipe for the peasant pancakes? I'm trying to solve a chinese pancake mystery and this might be close...:)

  17. Today I made Greek style gigantes plaki ("giant" beans in olive oil and tomato). The dish exists in Turkey as well, but though the beans are available here, most people from outside Istanbul or Izmir don't seem to be aware of them. In Greece it's a fairly common dish, but here in Istanbul it's mainly a dish of the "tavernas" or "meyhanes" (which were mostly run by non-Muslims until the 50s or so). The cooked beans are huge, over an inch in length. After soaking a pound of the beans overnight and cooking at a bare simmer till nearly done, they go into a baking dish. Add salt, tomato puree (or 3/4 of small can of tomato paste thinned in a cup of water), a cup or two of chopped tomatoes (I used canned today), parsley, 4 medium cloves of garlic, two chopped onions and about half a c up of olive oil. (If it's to be used as a meze, make it richer with a cup of oil. Cubed carrots can go into it as well, as can Celeriac greens (and some of the root if you like).

    Here they are ready to go into the oven.

    gallery_38081_3012_76194.jpgNow after cooking for around an hour, adding water as necessary. I cook them in the same stove I use to heat the house. :)


    And a close-up view of the first serving.


    Fortunately a summer visitor from the States was kind enough to leave me a bottle of "Beano." So I can still go on a date tonight... :cool:

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