by İbrahim Canbulat, M. Arch
İncir Uyutması (Fig Desert)
The 3rd leg of the Traditional Foods Festival promoted by the UNESCO Turkey National Commission was held in Safranbolu in 2008 and I served as a member of the steering committee during the preparation works that started in November 2007 and lasted until March of 2008. I was the moderator of the first three of a series of “Keşkek Festivals” (a dish of lamb or chicken and coarsely ground wheat) (the Bulak Keşkek Festival, Yenice Aşı and Eflâni Bandırma Festival) organized with the aim of scanning the culinary culture of Karabük that has recently become a province and support the activities of the NGOs. I conducted numerous oral history interviews to determine the contents and form of the cuisine presentation of Karabük, the host of the festival. Karabük Sofrası dinner we designed at the end of this approximately 7-month long research work was offered to our guests. I also worked on determining the 5 Paphlagonian cities, participants of the Festival, and their menus. In addition to Karabük, the cities in question were Bartın, Kastamonu, Çankırı and Bolu. Both the menu preparation and the presentation process made it clear that the region had a specific cuisine. I gained important information regarding the culinary culture of the region as a result of field surveys, trips and literature search that followed and for some time now I have been preparing and offering our guests Paphlagonian dishes.
Finding written sources regarding the local history becomes a major problem as one gets further away from the capital. This shortage is experienced in all research regarding local history regardless of the discipline involved. The same problem is true for research regarding culinary culture. In this study, culinary culture itself has been regarded as a document and some inferences regarding the life of the different social strata and uses of space in the past have been made. Therefore, being speculative from time to time was inevitable. With your contributions we may be able to confirm or negate some of the arguments I will put forth, and attain more accurate results. Therefore, please accept my methodology with tolerance.
I must point out that although essentially local culinary culture has a very strong backbone, it has a very dynamic structure that is open to change and influence. Culinary culture that is an inseparable part of social life contains important divergences between different ethnic communities and strata. Local food by its very nature makes use of local products. And again by its very nature local products are the result of the geographical properties of region. However, looking into the time dimension shows that culinary culture reflects the history of the community but at the same time it contains very important indicators that have undergone a very slow change over time. We must also add to this the spirit of the relevant period. The saying “Tell me what you eat, I will tell you who you are” is a very good example for this. Therefore, we must dwell shortly on the geographical and historical characteristics of Paphlagonia.
Soğan Salması (Onion Stew)
To a large extent, Paphlagonia coincided with the West Black Sea Region that is a sub-division of what is now the Black Sea Region. The Filyos River separated Paphlagonia from Bithynia at its west and the Kızılırmak (Halys) River from Pontus at its east. According to present day administrative division – listed clockwise- Paphlagonia contained the provinces of Zonguldak (east), Bartın, Kastamonu, Sinop, Çorum (west), Çankırı, Karabük and Bolu. The most important features of the region are the mountain ranges (lower compared to those of the East Black Sea Region) running parallel to the shore and the valleys and high plateaus among these mountains. To some extent, these mountain ranges protect the area both from the cold north winds and the continental climate of Central Anatolia. The high plateaus offer serious advantages for agriculture and animal husbandry. Again for the same reason, the region contains the most important forests of Anatolia. Paphlagonia should be described as a territorial enclave. The most important reason for this is the fact that this region has a very narrow coastal strip except for a very few exceptions. As we will see later when analyzing the history of Paphlagonia, although the interior areas were inhabited in prehistorical times, the shore areas started to be used only after Milet became a commercial colony. Paphlagonia’s connection with the sea was provided with Bartın (river port) and Amasra on the west and the İnebolu and Sinop ports on the east. The interior areas were enlivened with the abundant waters of the rivers at the bottom of the valleys and extending parallel to the sea. The valleys not only offered opportunities for agriculture and animal husbandry but also a geomorphological opportunity for the caravan roads that extended east west and attained the ports of Istanbul, Sinop and Samsun.
Çingen Baklavası (Gipsy Baklava)
From the country of the Kaskians to the Kastamonu Sancak
Hittite and Hellenistic sources cite that the oldest known tribe of the region is the Kaskian tribe that speaks one of the oldest languages of Anatolia known to belong to the Indo-European language group. Hellenistic sources dating of the 1st millennium BC mention the Paphlagonians. The region later falls into the influence area of the Hittites. The Iliad known to have been compiled in the 9th-8th centuries BC mentions the Paphlagonians as one of the Anatolian tribes that come to the rescue of their countrymen during the Trojan War.
The Paphlagonians Pylaemenes rules,
Where rich Henetia breeds her savage mules,
Where Erythinus’ rising cliffs are seen,
Thy groves of box, Cytorus! ever green,
And where Ægialus and Cromna lie,
And lofty Sesamus invades the sky,
And where Parthenius, roll’d through banks of flowers, Reflects her bordering palaces and bowers.
As the area was separated from the main roads of Central Anatolia by high mountain ranges, it was always behind in developing civilization and therefore, as a natural outcome, it never underwent destruction. Following the Hittite period the area came under the sovereignty of the Phrygians, Lydians and Persians. In the 7th century BC, taking advantage of the laxity of the Persians, the Ionians established Sesame – today known as Amasra – and Ionopolis (İnebolu) and Hellenized Sinop. However, as a result of reasons pointed out above, the Hellenistic culture of the shore area and the Kalkian culture and their following cultures never interacted. As a result of the laxity of the Persian sovereignty during the period of Alexander and the following period of the Macedonian Kingdom, the region was ruled by local princes. Later it came under the sovereignty of the Pontus. In the 5th century AD, during the Roman period, Paphlagonia was used as the official name of the province. The people of Paphlagonia that was an important animal husbandry of Rome raised mules as well as all kinds of animals for meat, milk and saddle. We know from sources that these animals reached the ports of Izmit and Gemlik through Kastamonu and Gerede and were sent to all the overseas provinces of Rome from these ports.
There were 9 cities in Paphlagionia whose capital was Gangra (Çankırı). They were Gangra, Tion (Hisarönü), Krateia (Gerede), Hadrianapolis (near Eskipazar), Sora (near Karabük), Ionopolis (İnebolu), Dadibra (Safranbolu), and Amastris (Amasra). Various sources point out particularly that the region that came under the Eastern Roman Empire followed by the Byzantine Empire never Hellenized. So much so that they always used the grammatical structure of Anatolian languages although they used Greek words. The books of travels of foreign scientists travelling through the area in the 19th century indicate that there was an important monastery system in the area administered by patriarchs during the Byzantine period. The monasteries that were an element of agricultural production had an important function in the economy of the region.
Turks began to be effective in the region in the 11th century after they occupied Sinop. The actual settlement of the Seljuqs in the region came about in the 12th century with their getting hold of an important section of the region with Sinop (Sinope), Kastamonu (Castamon), Safranbolu (Dadybra) forming the boundaries. Following the Anatolian Seljuqs, the region was ruled by the Principality of Çobanoğulları (1292-1461). During the Ottoman period it became the Kastamonu Sanjak.
Safranlı Nışasta Helvası (Starch Halwa with Saffron)
Turkish cuisine is generally classified as the palace cuisine, local cuisines and ethnic cuisines generally more over Istanbul. Palace cuisine is defined as the Ottoman palace cuisine. One encounters different sub-strata when doing local cuisine research in Anatolia. With regard to culinary culture I have to dwell shortly on a triad social structure that showed almost no change until the 20th century. I classify them as:
Based on this classification, when appropriate, I will also interpret Turkish cuisine under the two sub-headings I have indicated above. What is meant by local population should be read as the local social synthesis of the 12th century when the Turks took control of the region. Sometimes, I also refer to them as the Rûm or Rûm-Orthodox but this definition is mostly superposed with the Byzantine period and leads to misunderstandings. As I have already indicated above, this set-up consists of a local population that lived through the almost 4-thousand-year long history of Anatolia but never Hellenized. With time, some of these people became Muslims and the rest underwent population exchange beginning in the 1920s. As with Turks, the situation was more complex. In fact, we know that the Seljuqs had a war and urban administration mechanism that was shaped by Farsi culture. The Seljuqs and Anatolian Principalities that opened the door to Anatolia with the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 and Turkified almost all of Anatolia in the following 200 years were in fact an administrative class and with the exception of 3-5 settlements in Anatolia they did not interfere with the local population. In contrast, the nomadic Turkomans who flocked to Anatolia at the same time with the Seljuqs and settled in the meadows in groups created problems for the Seljuqs and later, the Ottomans brought by major administrative solutions in order to enable them to gain a settled social structure.
Under these geographical characteristics and historical view, I read the Paphlagonian cuisine as a synthesis created by different cultural groups.
Arpa Göcesi Çorbası (Barley Malt Soup)
Wheat, barley and corn is grown in the region. At this point, I must specify that corn came to the region only in the 18th century and was planted only on slopes where wheat could not be grown. The region also contains the most important rice growing areas of Turkey. Tosya and Osmancık – and once upon a time Kızılcaören and Safranbolu – are important rice producing centers. Kaplıca is a grain known as one of the oldest relatives of wheat and referred to as “sys: siyes” in Hittite sources and triticum monucocum or einkorn in Latin. Recently it has been included in “presidia” by Slow Food. All bulgur obtained from kaplıca grown in a narrow area in the region (Kastamonu, Seydiler, Devrekani, Ihsangazi) as a result of a grueling process is used within the region. It is actually not suitable for making yeast bread as it contains no gluten. Therefore, before wheat (triticum aestivum) was cultivated as a crop plant kaplıca was inevitably made into a batter and fermented and consumed in the form of porridge. This grain was cooked in the form of porridge in Byzantium.
I already mentioned above that Paphlagonia was the animal husbandry center of Rome. Although with time animal husbandry is turning from small (sheep, goats) to large (cow,buffalo) animals, the meat need of the region was supplied from sheep, goats and particularly emasculated goats. Moreover, the river bed of the Bartın Çayı is perfect for buffalo breeding. We know that the forests of the region are rich in terms of game. Eflani, a district of Karabük, is an important center of poultry. It is famous for its free ranging chicken, turkeys and geese. I must point out that turkey was introduced to the region in the 18th century and goose was brought by Caucasian immigrants in the 19th century. In addition, the Black Sea coastal region is naturally highly developed with regard to fishing.
The region also has very favorable properties for vegetable, fruit, herbs and mushroom growing. Nevin Halıcı remarks that the Black Sea region has a richer herb culture than the Aegean. Beans and tomatoes entered the region’s cuisine in the 18th century and should be regarded differently. The traditional way of cooking beans is almost like asparagus. The fact that it is only steamed and consumed with a butter sauce must be an indication that it is considered very important. The fact that tomatoes are called “manya” which means “attractive” in Russian is an important reference to its origin. However, as specified by Stefanos Yerasimos, tomatoes have made major changes in Ottoman cuisine. Therefore, particularly in doing a survey of local dishes one must be extremely careful with regard to dishes containing tomatoes. The North Black Sea forests are very rich in fungi. This richness has also found its reflection in the region’s cuisine. The reliefs in the rock tombs show that the region has always been a grapery – most probably a wine producing – center. The çavuş (big white grapes) type grape is a preferred type all over the country. By the way, I must also mention a very important source of vitamin C. Kızılcık, cornelian cherry, “krána” in Greek that has entered local Turkish as “kiren”, is used in numerous dishes in the region. No oily seeds are grown in the region. Therefore, all food is only cooked using animal fat (butter and tallow). I also know that flax and poppy was grown in the region in the past and that flax and poppy seeds were used to make oil. However, today there is not the slightest trace of this.
I will mention an invaluable spice: saffron. In Anatolia, saffron which is extremely difficult to grow and harvest and therefore a very expensive spice only grows in Safranbolu. It has received the “Geographic Indication” certificate recently. It is interesting that saffron which was used rather as medicine in Byzantium is found in Ottoman palace cuisine but with the exception of ‘zerde‘ that is prepared in the region it is not used in the preparation of any other dish. it is used as an ingredient of ‘aşure’ (Noah’s pudding) prepared in the houses of the rich.
As an invaluable source with regard to important details of the region’s culinary culture, I suggest using the book “Karadeniz Bölgesi Yemekleri” by Dr. Nevin Halıcı. It is a book that has to be consulted for important issues such as daily menus, foods and treats for important days, street foods but will extend my presentation unnecessarily. Within my presentation I will list the common dishes generally found in the region and will also present singular examples due to their characteristics. Later, I will talk about the region’s culinary culture over these examples.
Soups: Keşkek soup, Tarhana, Yoghurt soup, Ovmaç soup, Mısır göcesi soup,
Egg dishes: Mıhlama, Çılbır
Meat dishes: Kuyu kebabı, Kuzu dolması
Poultry: Bandırma, Pilaf with chicken
Vegetable dishes: Sarma and dolmalar, Ispıt, Mancar, Beans, Spinach, Fungi, Chickpeas.
Fruit dishes: Meat with quince
Rice dishes: Rice pilaf, Bulgur (cracked wheat) pilaf
Pasta: Noodles, Mantı (a type of ravioli with meat)
Börekler and hamur işleri: Haluşka, Gözlemeler, Saç börekleri, Su böreği
Meat Dishes: Papara
Hamur tatlıları: Baklava, Dolama, Helvalar, Lokma
Light desserts: Rice Pudding, Noah’s Pudding, Güllaç
Fruit desserts: Pumpkin tatlısı, Compotes
Paphlagonian Culinary Culture
Bartın, Kastamonu, Sinop, Çankırı and Bolu are locations with a deep rooted urban cultural history successively in the Roman – Byzantine – Seljuq – Ottoman periods. Zonguldak and Karabük are cities of the Republic period and during their rapid development they have received large numbers of immigrants and therefore, have a hybrid cuisine. Safranbolu has been able to maintain its urban culture until recently. When analyzing Bolu cuisine it is observed that in the 20th century it has been redesigned or reinterpreted – maybe with the influence of Mengen – and therefore, has diverged from the local.
It is impossible to speak about a palace cuisine in Paphlagonia. In actual fact, Ibn Battuta who travelled to Crimea through Gerede–Safranbolu – Kastamonu – Sinop in the 14th century mentions that he was hosted by Çobanoğlu İbrahim Sultan in Kastamonu and his son Ali Bey in Safranbolu and gave detailed information on the food and ingredients. However, what he relates is more like the exaggerated dishes of a very hospitable urban host rather than a palace cuisine. What he relates coincides with the ceremonial food presentations at urban centers of the region. Two valuable products such as meat and rice come to the fore among the different dishes.
Historically, Ottomans have always had a dual structure. So much so that there were times when there were two cadis (Muslim judge) in their history. In the case of Safranbolu these were: Medine-i Taraklı Borlu and Yörükan-ı Taraklı Borlu. I want to digress one more time. Although the region south of the Safranbolu – Kastamonu – Sinop alignment passed to the control of the Seljuqs towards the end of the 12th century, Turcomans were seen in the region long before that. In the 11th century, the army of Alexios Komnenos that was moving from Sinop to Konstantinopolis was attacked by the Turcomans and defeated. Since the region was at the right end tip of Ottoman lands it was used as a lodging area and therefore, the culture brought from the east by Turcomans always remained fresh. The contradictions between the Turcomans and the urban dwellers of the area seriously prevented the mixing of the two cultures.
Ekşili Pilav (Sour Pilaf)
Urban Culinary Culture
In my opinion, although the urban dweller had a downright Turkish cuisine, they stabilized this far too much in their ceremonial dishes as a result of a minority complex. After the Seljuqs vacated completely the three major cities – Safranbulu, Kastamonu and Çankırı – of the region and the Rums were replaced by Seljuqs, even though they later mixed with the Turcomans to some extent, in private conversations urban minorities claim that they are descendents of Seljuq aristocrats. Although the connection with the Seljuq aristocracy makes sense, except for some dishes of meat with fruit, I have not found any trace of Ottoman cuisine in my research of their cuisine.
Urban dwellers always have two expensive foods at their table. They are: red meat and rice. I would like to share some examples related to red meat consumption thinking that it would be supportive. In the 12th century, the Turcomans sent 24 thousand sheep to the kitchen of Sanjar. We know that during the Ottoman period, the meat requirement of Istanbul was provided by cattle dealers appointed by force under the control of the palace. The fact that some of the cattle sent to Istanbul vanished at some point on the way during the 16th and 17th centuries necessitated that the palace control the system through the cadi channel. One of the points where the cattle vanished was our area.
Urban dwellers had only one main dish: A stew made with red meat. And in addition Kuzu dolması (rice pilaf infilled lamb) and kuyu kebabı (lamp roasted in pit) prepared for special occasions. During our spoken history work, I documented that they consumed no other meat other than red meat. They specify particularly that they never consumed chicken on the pretext that it smelled. During our research, one of our sources said that one day her grandmother put some vegetables and herbs while cooking whole meat but when her husband reacted seriously never attempted to try it again.
In my opinion, meat that is first simply poached in butter and then cooked over low fire with or without onions is being prepared in the region with no change whatsoever for 800 years. I would like to point out something: it would not be wrong to read “whole meat” as “only meat”.
Although sources point out that rice spread in Anatolia in the 16th century during the Safavid period, we read that Ibn Battuta ate bread, meat, pilaf, fat and halva in Taşköprü at the Fahreddin Bek Zawiya when travelling through our region in the 14th century. It is obvious that the Seljuqs brought rice with them when they came here. During our oral history study, as if they had agreed in advance, all our interviewees said “Rice soup” when we asked about the entrée. Making this soup is as easy as that of whole meat. You put rice in the broth of whole meat and boil it and sprinkle it with chopped parsley. We also know that pilaf also holds an important place and is made with the broth of whole meat. So here is the feast of the urban dweller: rice soup, whole meat and pilaf. This pattern is still maintained with almost no change. In case of a ceremonial dinner, it ends with su böreği and baklava. With time etli yaprak sarma and still much later, boiled fresh beans “Uzun Bakla” dressed with melted butter were added to this pattern.
The urban dweller has put important limits between the Turcomans and themselves. One of these is the saying “Bugün Pazar Türkler azar” (Today is market day, Turks go insane) that was used until recently. Documents show that Seljuqs prevented the villagers’ entry to the cities by checks at the fortress gates. Therefore, setting the local regional markets next to cities but outside the forts was an intelligent solution. Although it is a small detail, I found out during oral history studies that one of our sources said that when making dried apples they cut the apple in four while the others cut it in eight. Since then, cutting the apple in four or eight has been my dilemma.
Turcoman Culinary Culture
Even in a very limited geography food names differ. For example, what the Safranbolu urban dweller calls yaprak sarması is called “Kara Dolma” in the villages and “Uzun Bakla” becomes “Çullu Bakla”. “Aş evi” used for kitchen in cities is called ”ekmek evi” in villages. The interviewee expects you to call the dish you are talking about the way she/he calls it. However, my preferred different name is “Yük Ekmeği” (Cargo Bread). Yufka ekmeği (markook) (unleavened flatbread) that the Safranbolu urban dweller calls just bread attains its etymologic value in the Turcoman vernacular. While the Safranbolu urban dweller adorns his table with the most expensive products, the Turcoman produces numerous dishes generally made with yufka that the housewife makes. A wide range of different yufka and the kesme makarna (home made fettuchini), kadayıf, etc made of yufka. The most interesting among these is the “Çullu Börek”. This börek that is still made in our Ovacık province is made by cutting the yufka in thin pieces and cooking it on saj after combining it with different ingredients. They mix the pieces of yufka only with butter and milk and sometimes also put chicken livers and eggs. Researching the connection of this börek with the çullamas made in Crete is not within the scope of my research.
The most common dessert of the Turcomans is the “Çingen Baklavası”. This sweet dessert made solely using leftover shredded yufka bread could be the missing link of chain that the well-known food historian Charles Perry is looking for. Çingen baklava is made by putting crushed walnuts between layers of yufka and pouring molasses and butter over it. Our interviewees said that this was eaten as is. It started to be baked later.
I think that while Turcomans had an eating pattern based solely on lamb at the beginning, later it became exceedingly poor. The most important animal nutritional source of those living in the rural areas of Paphlagonia even on special occasions was fowl. This is clearly observed in oral history studies and food compilations. Chicken is mostly fed for eggs and cattle solely for milk. They eat mostly vegetable and mainly grains. Hüseyin Lütfi Ersoy who researched the local dishes of the Eflani area (Karabük – Kastamonu) gives about 150 recipes. The only recipe containing meat among these 150 recipes is “turkey bandırma”.
Cevizli Kıymalı Saç Böreği (Börek with Walnut and Minced Lamp Meat)
Mantı – Piruhi
In addition to noodles mantı (a kind of ravioli) and piruhi (a kind of dumpling) are the most common flour based dishes. It is interesting that they are referred to by two different names even though their preparation and cooking methods are similar. Some times their filling and at times the sauces poured over differs. Although mantı is made with small differences all over Anatolia, piruhi is considered a special dish of Paphlagonia. Mantı whose origin is China – Mongolia spread towards the west over Central Asia. The main trend was brought by Turcomans and spread all over Anatolia and all the way to the Ottoman palace cuisine. Piruhi came later – most probably in the 19th century – and was brought by the Crimean Tatars and reached Northern Anatolia as “perushky: Tatar böreği” and was instantly adopted by the local population. At this point, I think that with the exception of the Cold War period, the Black Sea provided a rather extensive cultural communication and interaction medium. Haluşka, peruhi and manya that we find in the Paphlagonian cuisine are spectacular examples of this.
Bütün Et Ot Kavurması Yatağında (Lamb Stew on Fried Vetetables with Walnut)
Börek and Çörek
I will come back to the fact that the oven that is a local technology and at the same time an important distinguishing element. However, there is an important detail that the people of Bulak warned me to be very careful about. Börek is cooked on saj or round metal tray over fire. Çörek is cooked in an oven. I would like to specify here two points that I deem important. All dishes that Turks make using yufka and yufka itself is cooked on a saj. Therefore, börek of any sort must be cooked on both sides on saj or metal tray. Bükme, saç böreği, gözleme or etli ekmek that is offered as traditional food should definitely be cooked on saj. As the name implies, the çörek with walnuts prepared at the Bulak village nowadays is a totally different flavor made with leavened dough baked in an oven.
The fact that they use leavened dough and having ovens at home are the most important separatrices of the native culture of Anatolia. So much so that in areas where there was a large Rum population in the past neighborhood ovens are still in use. Today, still women get together and bake four different types of leavened bread in these ovens that are maintained and lit collectively.
During our oral history interviews we came across two important details. An elder Safranbolu urban dweller told me that since buying bread from the neighborhood bakery everyday would not be approved, bread from the local bakery was taken home secretly. An elderly lady said that they were very pleased with the oven of the Rum house they bought after the exchange of population and prepared themselves a feast. However, the increasing popularity of the oven the saj börek and gözleme – two important dishes of Turkish cuisine – started to be prepared in the oven. The etli ekmek of Kastamonu that used to be cooked on saj is being cooked in the oven since the 1960s.
Kara Dolma (Minced Meat Stuffed Wine Leaves)
Beşparmak – Islama – Bandırma
The dish called “beşparmak” by the Kazakhs and Turcomans is prepared with lamb meat cooked with onions shredded over thick cut pieces of pasta dough and cooked one more time. Beşparmak is the Anatolian ancestor of dishes such as papara and tirit that are prepared with yufka bread and is found in different cuisines. This kind of dishes is most widely seen in the Paphlagonia region in Anatolia. Other similar dishes made with leavened bread are tirit and mamalika. I have nothing that shows which one was the first. In one of his conferences Vedat Başaran said that Turkish dishes changed as leavened bread became more widespread. At this point I maintain that regardless of whether it is broken by hand and dipped into the sauce or laid under the food – as in Iskender kebab – the Anatolian cuisine does not do without bread at the table. The dish called ıslama or bandırma can be made with different kinds of meat. There has been a transition from red meat to fowl in the region. It is also said that quail is used extensively in the region.
Obviously, the local population was putting leavened bread to use as tirit or mamalika. In this region, tirit and the ıslama and bandırma of the Turkomans have come to be a group of dishes prepared in the same way but with different ingredients. In addition to bandırma mostly prepared with fowl nowadays the most interesting dish of this group must be the “simit tiriti” of Kastamonu.
Kuşburnu ve Kiren (Rose Hip and Cornelian Mas Drinks)
Culinary Culture of the Native
Simply speaking keşkek can be explained as wheat pounded and hulled mixed with water and meat broth cooked in an oven for long hours. One instantly understands the importance of the oven during the preparation of keşkek. In the words of cooks, “the oven is not lit for keşkek”. The oven is lit for bread or çörek and then used to cook keşkek. I will come back to the issue of ovens, however, looking at the word keşkek in the dictionary leads to confusion. The best study regarding keşkek I have come across until now is the paper entitled “El-Kişk: Geçmişiyle Bugünüyle Karmaşık Yemek” (El-Kisk: History of Complex Food”) by Françoise Aubaile-Sallenave presented at the Culinary Cultures of the Middle East Conference . The paper specifies that keşkek is a Farsi word and the name of a kind of barley soup and is served with a sauce of sour milk. As obvious from the title of the paper, the issue is complex. I just want to point out an important detail here. During my oral history study I found out that just like cracked barley cracked wheat was also left to ferment in the past. It is also observed that places where keşkek is made coincides with those where the Rums (local community) lived in the past. As I have already mentioned above keşkek locks with another important property: it is baked in an oven. In my interviews conducted with Rums that left as a result of the population exchange, I realized that the preparation and cooking process of the dish referred to as κεσκέκ, κεσκέκι and κισκέκ was exactly the same as what is done today with the exception that they used pork meat.
Zerde (Saffron Pudding)
Köle Aşı – Arabaşı – Malak –Haluşka – Kedi Batmaz
This dish generally made with wheat flour slowly added to boiling water and stirred rapidly until it is cooked has different names in various parts of Anatolia. Etymological research takes the researcher to unseemly points. The most reliable legend is that since it has a high calorie value, is cheap and easy to make it was given to the slaves, especially if the slave was African, the name “Arabaşı” is a good fit. Bober states that the five cereals before wheat could only be consumed in gruel form (puls, alica). This food is a good example of the consumption of cereals which can not be baked due to no gluten content, so they used to be consumed after being crushed and fermented or in later times cooked to gruel. What is really confusing is that the dish is called haluşka (Halusky) in Slavic in Safranbolu. Depending to preference, haluşka is sometimes eaten with melted butter, sometimes with molasses and at times with both. This must have been due to corn flour being preferred after corn reached the old continent. When doing research on culinary culture in İnebolu an elderly woman told me that they prepared the dish with corn flour and called it “pıt”. She said that while cooking the dish, the vapor from the pan made a “pıt” sound. The dish is still made in the west Black Sea region with the addition of cheese and is called mıhlama. However, what is really striking is the fact that corn that is called “grano Turca” by the Italians has entered their kitchen and is called polenta.
Uzun Bakla (Bean Stew with Butter Sauce)
During my cuisine research they offered us “soğan salması” (onion stew) in the Eskipazar township of Karabük. The dish prepared with very limited ingredients and a simple process was unexpectedly tasty. I found the dish I had not come across anywhere in the region in a book about Byzantine food. According to the reference in the book, the dish was called “kutsal çorba” (sacred soup). The dish was one of the religious fasting dishes of Christians that still lived in the area. The dish that has undergone very few changes is a document and has very special flavors despite its simplicity. According to the original cooking method onions that were boiling in water were sprinkled with thyme and consumed. In Eskipazar – without going against the fasting rules – milk is added to the dish.
Crushed Barley and Einkorn Bulgur
I have already mentioned above that according to Dr. Halıcı the region has a richer herb culture than the Aegean region. Study of the attached list of dishes will immediately reveal how rich the vegetable and fungi dishes are both from the aspect of ingredients and cooking methods. Especially mancar (kara lahana) (cole) and ıspıt (borage) as well as numerous herbs (ısırgan (nettle), pazı (chard), semizotu (purslane), ebegümeci (mallow), hindiba (endive), dil buran, kazayak (low goosefoot), gelincik (poppy), çoban ekmeği, kara kavruk, madımak, teke sakalı, yemlik, toklamaç, labada), fungi (ayı köşk, cincile, göbelek, içi kızıl, kanlıca, karakulak, kayışkan, meşe, mıh tepesi, sarıgül, tellice, kara göçen, kabak, koç, saçak, bağrı kışlı, cücüle, çivi başı, geyik, halı saçağı, karaağaç) and vegetables are used in the region’s cuisine. In their simplest form, these ingredients are cooked with various grains and both their taste and nutritional values are balanced. In an exaggerated way of saying, they leave unforgettable flavors in our mouths. This dish was prepared at the Traditional Flavors Festival and offered to the guests. Following the presentation, it was the one whose recipe was most often asked.
I would like to share one of my anecdote like memories here. During our work in Yenice we discovered a vegan cuisine and started to work in collaboration with the county governor of the time in order to use this within the context of tourism. The idea to introduce this cuisine to the editor of Food & Travel Magazine came up at this point. The menu was prepared but we learned that the municipal board that met did not want to introduce Yenice with these herbal dishes and had prepared meat dishes. As a result of the county governor’s insistence, the meat dishes were withdrawn and the guests were offered the vegan dishes we gathered from the homes and were met with great interest.
During the Yenice local cuisine research, we discovered a unique dessert: Sultani Bakla Tatlısı. This dessert is prepared like the fava that we all know but with sugar. It was interesting to see that the region that is poor from the view point of meat and grains (they grow corn now) uses bakla (broad beans) for a dessert.
The region is very rich in fungi. Especially in the fall people go to pick mushrooms in groups. Those who don’t have the time buy the mushrooms that are almost as expensive as meat at the market with their limited budget.
Palamut Dolma (Stuffed Bonito)
Palamut Dolma is probably the most interesting dish under the influence of Hellen culture in the region. We come across this dish in Sinop. It is a more striking version of the stuffed mackerel that is almost forgotten even in Istanbul nowadays. The “iç pilavlı anchovy” that I regard as a simpler version of this dish must also be noted. In his book 500 Yıllık Osmanlı Mutfağı, M. Yerasimos dates the first stuffed mackerel to the 19th century. This should be interpreted as Turks accepting sea food in their cuisine late rather than the dish being prepared recently.
Sirkeli Kurabiye (Vinegar Cookies)
A Singularity: İncir (Fig) Uyutması
I came across an interesting dessert during my research. This fruity dessert called İncir Uyutması is prepared in Bartın and Karabük. Fig dessert and stuffed figs as dessert are found in many areas of Turkey but incir uyutması was a totally different sweet. During my internet search I came across the same sweet dessert in Düzce. In some internet pages it was referred to as “göçmen tatlısı” (immigrant’s sweet). A technique similar to the teleme (curd cheese) technique is used in its preparation. Crushed dried figs are added to lukewarm milk and the mixture is left to ferment just like yoghurt and cheese. If the mixture and process are successful you get a rather delicious fruity yoghurt dessert. This dessert is not done anywhere in the Aegean region known to be a fig producing area. Although I cannot trace its origins exactly, I define it within the Paphlagonian cuisine. It may have been first made by a bride who married and settled in the area.
I have already mentioned that Paphlagonia was a world of its own disconnected from Anatolia due to its geographical properties. As you will realize from the presentation, its cuisine that is still preserving its original values is not only offering flavors but also presenting the culinary cultures and story of humanity through the ages.
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