After starting this brand and leading over two hundred gastronomical walks around Istanbul and around Turkey, since 2009, I have neglected to write in my blog. Maybe I would have been one of those world famous bloggers had I not been slacking all this time. Shame on me!
Today I start with this blank page…
My parents recently rented a house near Bergama, a small town in the Aegean region that has the most beautiful nature. The house is located in a village that is surrounded by pine trees. This region incidentally happens to be the place where the best pine nuts come from. There are a few pine nut processing mills around where one can get the freshest pine nuts for a tad bit cheaper.
In Turkish cuisine, they are used quite commonly in dolmas cooked in olive oil, but in this region, they put them everywhere, including tea which takes on the name “flirty tea” when toasted pine nuts are added.
I haven’t been to visit them just yet but have been to the area once before. One of my favourite activities when visiting a small rural town is to pay a visit to the open markets that are usually set on specific days of the week. Bergama’s market is on Mondays. These markets not only sell fresh produce, legumes, cheese, and sometimes kitchen supplies and clothes but they also have stalls that sell foodstuff cooked on the spot. While this is not a frequent occurrence in Istanbul markets, it is quite customary in rural open-air or farmers markets. My favorite kind of food that is sold in these markets happens to be gözleme.
Gözleme is a type of flatbread that is made all over Anatolia. Basically, it a very thinly stretched dough that is filled with pretty much anything (my favorite filling is mashed potatoes or fresh herbs with lor cheese) and folded in half, then cooked on a flat grill positioned on burning wood. Although it may sound simple, yet making this thin dough requires skill and long-time practice.
This technique is the one we inherited from our ancestors, the Central Asian Turks. A lot of the dough-based sweet and savory dishes in Turkish cuisine, even including baklava, relies on this technique. Even though I have tried many times to stretch a dough as thin as paper, I still have to “eat a bakery full of bread”J (This is an old Turkish proverb, which implies that to be an expert on a skill, one has to work really hard for a long time).
For the time being, I will stick to getting my gözleme fix at rural markets, but maybe one day I will be able to stretch the perfect dough to make my own, and then I can share a recipe for you to try at home.