It is early afternoon in late September, that time in Turkey where the days are still warm and full of life yet the village pace seems to have slowed to a more ‘normal’ rhythm. The majority of the tourists have returned home leaving more time for the Turks to do what Turks do best…prepare a favourite meal to share with their family, friends and any anyone else that happens to pass by.
Gathered together on the balcony, pressing my knife once into the freshly picked olive one by one ready for pickling. Sitting inside underneath the fan shelling gigantic bakla beans from which seemed like a never-ending pile. Yet my most vivid memories are of the times making gozleme and you would never have to ask me twice to help with that. The reward was too great. Those delicious spinach and cheese filled breads toasted over an open fire and rolled on and off with such precision and ease that you might think it’s as easy as pie. Always to be made in very large batches to ensure that all the people; extended family and friends or the ones who simply followed their noses, all received some.
I will admit that the preparations needed to pull off such a mouth watering ‘snack’ seemed extensive and time consuming. Probably why we always cooked in the afternoon now that I come to think about it. Not that it concerned me too much as my sole contribution was filling the already rolled bread with the already prepared filling. I tried my hand at the rolling out of the dough numerous times but after you have witnessed the ease with which your fellow sisters are doing it, how they get the exact same size and thickness required, each time, every time in seconds, you realise it’s best to stick to your part otherwise we’d be here well into the night.
This time we are sitting in the village of Cesmebasi. Literally ‘The head of flowing water’ yet often translated to me as ‘tap head’, not quite as romantic I believe. We are sitting in the shade of the grape vines that for years have been haphazardly zigzagged to and fro across a simple wire grid.
At an uncle’s house with his goat herd nattering away in the background reminding us that we have their ayran to drink with our gozleme. Seated on the ground on top of an old worn kilim that is rolled out especially for these occasions, the work begins….