Exploring Turkish Cuisine
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Meze and Raki – Turkish Flavours

This post was meant to be posted 3 weeks ago but I got caught in work as usual… Having a personal blog, not for business or professional purpose, gives me the liberty of writing whatever and whenever I write and honestly, but I also have a silent wish that my blog can reach more audience. It was so timely that I ran into the wonderful and soothing article, ‘Maintaining a long-term blog‘ on 101 Cookbooks, which is one of my favourites. You might have already read it, if you’re following her blog. The author’s been blogging for 12 years and is still as consistent and committed as day one. While reading the article, I felt the heat rising in the cheeks, mostly probably out of shame for being so inconsistent with my blog. My blog will be celebrating its 2nd birthday in 2 weeks; I messed up my blog once by changing the domain name and I hope it doesn’t affect its birthday. While checking the first entry, I noticed some posts had been left out when overwriting, which needs to be fixed.

When I first started this blog, I had the vision of sharing the joy of cooking together while discovering the then-new Turkish cuisine. My guest-cooking page hasn’t been updated for a long time; I feel ashamed…. And what’s happened to the wine and restaurant reviews? And the recipes? Where am I heading? Some just start a blog and find a point of view along the way, and others start one with set goals. I guess I was the former, but I haven’t really come to a point yet, which lets me down sometimes. Perhaps, it’s the month, December, that makes me reflective. Despite all the ‘to be or not to be’ moment, the emails I occasionally receive from people who come across my blog and ask personal questions, about wines and cheeses especially, make me continue with my passion. Passion and commitment…. not only one, but both. Ok, let’s change the subject.

meze night (4)

A few weeks ago I had an unexpected meeting with Selin, who runs Turkish Flavours, proudly the first culinary tour in Turkey. You can ask Mr.O about how happy I was coming back from her cooking class that evening. It wasn’t because of the leftovers that I brought home, which we enjoyed the next day with Raki(Turkish anise-flavoured drink), but because of the inspirations and conversations I had while cooking and eating with Selin.

I don’t normally drink Raki at home but seeing all the mezes and plus the lakerda(salt-marinated bonito) in the fridge – what delicacy!- made me set up a Raki table. Of course, Mr.O was stunned and happy to be welcomed by this delightful surprise on a weekday evening. We eat so well, don’t we?

meze night (5)

The only mistake I made was to put ice in the glass before pouring Raki. Uh uh…Why? Raki drinkers will know the answer. When I saw white gunks floating on the surface of the glass, I didn’t know what went wrong with the Raki. Apparently, anise oil in the drink crystalises in cold temperatures, and I put too many ice cubes in. Haha 🙂 That’s what happens when a wine drinker serves Raki.

The mezes I brought from Selin’s were Muhammara (spicy capsicum dip), Grated carrot meze, and Celeriac and quince meze cooked in orange juice and olive oil, which was something new to me. I often cook with celeriac, in soups or potato mash, but not this way, and I really liked it. The typical carrot meze was also slightly different to how it is in most restaurants and I liked her version with less yogurt. Though our guys with a traditional palate prefer more yogurt.

As I was watching Selin cooking, helping and talking passionately with the guests, I imagined myself in her position. Running a cooking class is fun but also exhausting; even watching the process drains my energy, it seems. As a well-experienced culinary expert, she seems to pull it off with ease. She is quite a character, full of energy, and also an intellectual, who likes to talk and thinks of new ideas. I was glad to have hands on experience with cooking typical Turkish dishes such as Karnıyarık(Split eggplant) and Herbed cheese Börek, both of which I will be unlikely to make in my own kitchen. Why? It’s available in every lokanta here so I don’t need to cook it myself. This is surely in my upcoming book. Actually, I’ve made split eggplants years ago, stuffed with, guess what?, yes, kimchi and tofu.

turkish flavours-2

Through years of work experience in tourism and travels, she was very knowledgeable not only about Turkish cuisine, but also international cuisines. Her bookshelves were full of art books and cookbooks, which show her passion. When she made a bulgur pilav in a different way, winking “We don’t need to put tomatoes in everything, do we?”, something between us clicked, on my side anyway. She indeed knows so much about food.

turkish flavours-1

All of us finally sat and ate all the yummies while talking about history and current issues. She also ran us through her personal and family stories, which were so unbelievable.  I got to sit with her after the guests had left since I was still excited, full of questions, and she listened to all my whats and hows and gave me some points and directions. I was so grateful to her for such a wonderful experience.

turkish flavours

Last words for Selin.

“Your Muhammara is the best I’ve eaten! I will cook it one day, following your recipe. I’ve been studying your recipe book almost everyday for inspirations now. You’re right. Everything is about quality ingredients, and also good gadgets! I was so jealous of all the gadgets you own.”

This entry was posted in: Exploring Turkish Cuisine
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Hello, I'm Namie and I like exploring different cuisines and creating something that is delicious and healthy at the same time. I'm also a certified wine lover and interested in discovering exciting new wines. For a wine and food event, please feel free to contact me. ewmistanbul@gmail.com

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