October 11, 2011
Although I haven’t been fortunate enough to visit the country, Turkey has always held a fascination for me. It’s long and complex history, the bridge between East and West, the mixing of cultures, languages and religion not to mention the souks and the food.
One my earliest memories is reading C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books where Edmund is tempted by the White Witch’s offering of Turkish delight in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. What was this thing called a sweetmeat? I had Fry’s Turkish Delight, a chocolate coated, rose scented, sickly sweet confectionery which was totes gross and put me off the whole thing–until I sampled a Turkish delight known as lokum which had a robust chewiness and delicate flavour (my favourite is cinnamon).
I later went on to read Barbara Nadel’s Turkish mysteries beginning with Belshazzar’s Daughter featuring the drinking, philosophising Inspector Çetin İkmen and his handsome sergeant Mehmet Süleyman. They tackle complex, cultural crimes in modern Turkey. However, one of my favourite series is Jason Goodwin’s historical mysteries beginning with The Janissary Tree featuring the eunuch Yashim in 19th century Istanbul. Apart from being cracking reads, Goodwin is an aficionado of Turkish cuisine and often features recipes from the Ottoman court.
My little corner of London, Archway, isn’t the nicest or poshest, but it does boast an array of Turkish shops that stock high quality olive oil, fresh fruit and veg, pomegranate molasses and paper thin pita bread at drool-worthy prices. And the thing that makes me happiest is that there is a wonderful bakery that sells an assortment of Turkish bread and sweets just down the road from where I live.
It took me almost a year of living in Archway before I even realised that this bakery offered something special. Can you see inside the window?
There’s a Turkish mama sitting just inside the window making fresh gözleme, a type of Turkish crêpe with savoury fillings (feta, mince, potatoes and spinach). I cannot resist freshly hand-made breads (especially flatbreads) and had to try it pronto.
It’s hand-rolled and takes about seven minutes to make–but Mama-san is super-organised and has made some in advance for hungry locals.
It’s £2 for a single filling and £2-50 for two. I normally have spinach and potatoes which are lightly spiced but this time I had spinach and feta which seems more popular.
You can eat them straight away (as they are piping hot) or stick them under the grill for a crispier bite.
My other favourite food is lahmacun or Turkish pizza, a thin crust dough spread with a spicy mince and tomato mixture, then rolled with some salad, lemon juice and chilli sauce.
Since I live only a couple of minutes from the bakery, I buy it cold, take out the salad, stick the bread under the grill to make it hot with crispy edges and re-roll.
Then tuck in while it’s nice and crispy.
It’s a perfect mixture of salty, sour and spicy. Delish.
It’s my Sunday treat after going to the supermarket for my weekly food shopping. Yay for Sundays!
45 Junction Road