Ramadan kicked off last Saturday here, and on Sunday, Mr.O and I went to his parents’ place for dinner, which I’d thought was a casual stop-by thing but turned out to be a feast of sumptuous food prepared by Mr.O’s dad. There were so many people at the supermarket stocking up for a big feast and packets of rice starch sheets, which are used to make the special Ramadan dessert, Güllaç, were piled up on the shelves, and above all, the roads were empty as people were either already home or heading home for a big feast, which I like about Ramadan!
Also, you can see long queues outside bakeries with people waiting to get fresh loaves of Ramadan pide. When I arrived, I was surprised at the sight of his sister and her friends, and then at the table laid with delicious healthy food, a true Aegean feast!
I’d always praised how great a cook Mr.O’s dad is but he is just amazing with food. All the girls at the table were enthusiastically throwing questions regarding the recipes, which should be the other way around. But hey, I’m in Turkey where men cook and serve women! You don’t believe me? Then, you should come to Turkey and see it for yourself. 🙂
People like him who cook with inspiration and fresh seasonal ingredients tend to have difficulty giving recipes, because recipes come from within, the deep love and passion for life and others.
The baked köfte (meatball) dish was so good that I felt like I could polish off the whole tray, even the juice, dipping it with bread. He combined the Aegean cuisine with the eastern cuisine so well by using chilli paste from Urfa.
Look how healthy my plate looks! I just love it. Every individual dish has its own unique flavour and is so fresh, everything from the home garden except bulgur, of course.
And just like me, he is always the last one to sit and eat, and whenever I see him eating, the sight of him appreciating every bite wholeheartedly makes my heart go tender. I know what it feels like to cook for people who I care about.
When we were just about to finish our meal, there was a knock on the door and there came more food. A neighbour had brought a tray of amazing looking food, which made our palate travel to the east and Black Sea: minty yoghurt soup and bread made with stinging nettle, which I’d been looking around for!
And there was also one of my favourite dessert, Kadayıf, which is made with thin shreds of pastry and which I prefer to baklava.
The last is the serbet like drink made with sour cherries from the garden, vişne kompostosu. My sweet-toothed Mr.O didn’t like it because it wasn’t sweet but refreshing. The almond paste was also a treat, which was my first time tasting but reminded of my favourite Turkish cookie, bitter almond cookies, Acibadem.
Oh, you might think our Ramadan dinner was somewhat modest but because we eat so well outside Ramadan, we can go modest during it. But in fact, Mr.O’s family and friends don’t practice Ramadan so I haven’t really experienced the real ambiance except on the TV where I saw people breaking the fast in public squares with free food prepared by the government. And it makes me wonder how long this tradition will go on when the ancestral ceremonies in Korea have gone old-fashioned and people don’t bother cooking traditional food, which modern people no longer eat. I remember how much food everyone used to cook for just one day and eat the leftover for a week or even two weeks for longer if frozen! By the end, you get fed up with the same food and I used to think how people cook so much when the deceased couldn’t even eat it.
At night, I hear people chatting outside through the window until wee hours as they stay up till late digesting or waiting for the first meal before dawn. Traditions like this help to preserve the country’s cuisine and culture so I suppose it’s a good thing as long as it is done in a true spirit and allows flexibility It was just food for thought.
Recipe: Güllaç (Surfing the World Cuisine)