Milena’s Cooking Adventures — Yesterday Was Monday
First of all, my apologies for falling off the cliff of inactivity into the abyss of forgetfulness. In other words, sorry I haven’t posted in ages. I’ve had some personal things to juggle, but they seem to be well juggled now. I’m hoping I can get back to my regular Tuesday posting. Oh, is today Friday? Well, yesterday was Monday. So no worries.
For many years, I have pined for the salep and Monteida olive oil and simit that my dear lovely college roommate (let’s call her S) used to describe for me and bring me back from her trips to Turkey. After consistently hoarding knock-off mostly fake salep in my sock drawer for years and hissing and growling at anyone who came near (salep is illegal to export, for those of you who wonder why I found it so precious) I finally jumped over to that country to see the beauty of its food for myself.
I could never have imagined how beautiful Turkey actually is. I arrived in Izmir airport and was driven 2 hours to Cunda by S and her incredibly kind in-laws, along with a very grumpy little baby (let’s call her Bean) who was not a fan of being in a carseat for a total of 4 hours. When I say that Turkey is beautiful, I’m not just talking about the landscape.
I’m also talking about the food, fresh and flavourful and rich.
I’m also talking about the deep inherent kindness towards animals, the way that store owners care for stray cats and dogs, feeding them, cooing over them, and setting up little havens for them inside and outside their cafés and restaurants.
I’m also talking about the beauty of the joy that people show towards small children.
In the US, if a child, say, of the age of Bean (younger than 2, older than “I can run at full speed now watch out”) launches herself towards a square filled with people, adults will not touch her, not catch her fall, or coo at her. They will most likely freeze, or potentially look around for her parent. Very rarely will they interact with the kid. In Turkey, little Bean will get her cheeks pinched, she will get handed little melty bits of chocolate; vendors, when she grabs at their wares, will simply give her little keychains of nazars, telling her she’s a good girl. Strangers will sing to her or pick her up to hand back to her parents. Turkey approaches children and animals with immense joy. And even I, cynical person that I am, thought it was sweet and adorable.
The last and most unexpected thing I discovered about Turkey is that I *like* their coffee.
I am not a coffee drinker. That’s an understatement. Hand me a cup of coffee and see how quickly I shove it away from me, faster than a cat with your water glass after you’re late for their dinner by 5 minutes. My twin has been trying for over a decade to coax me to drink coffee, but every sip I’ve had has made me screw up my face in disgust. The finest espresso, milky lattes, even those American piles of milky foam and hazelnut syrup and sprinkles– nothing for me disguises the acrid burning aftertaste of coffee beans.
Turkish coffee is like chocolate. I don’t even taste the coffee. It’s smooth and sweet and rich and gorgeous. And while in Turkey, I took advantage of so many cafés, always ordering the sweetest form of Turkish coffee.
I was even so sad when I left this beverage behind that I bought an electric Turkish coffee maker and coffee grounds. S’s mother-in-law then got me a beautiful set of Turkish coffee cups as a going-away present. Every time I use them I remember the little cat falling asleep next to me in the nearby café while I sipped my Şekerli Türk Kahvesi (super sweet Turkish coffee).
It took quite a few tries and a lot of quizzing S and S’s mother-in-law to figure out a good method, but now I can make foamy perfect Turkish coffee every day that I miss Turkey.
Şekerli Türk Kahvesi
(super-sweet Turkish coffee)
- Turkish coffee cups (espresso cups will do in a pinch)
- 1 large TBS of Turkish coffee grounds for each cup you’re making
- 1-2 sugar cubes/teaspoons for each cup you’re making (I like 2! But I have a sweet tooth)
- A Turkish coffee-maker (cezve, electric or stovetop)
- cold water
- Fill up your coffee cup with very cold (!) water and dump it into your cezve. Don’t put it on the heat/turn it on yet. Repeat for as many cups as you are making.
- Put in your sugar cube(s)/teaspoons of sugar. Let stand till dissolved.
- In the meantime, lay out your cups near the cezve to get them ready.
- Put your coffee into the cezve according to how many cups you’re making. Start the heat and stir vigorously. Once coffee grounds are mixed in (a matter of seconds), stop stirring immediately.
- WATCH THE CEZVE. DO NOT LEAVE. DO NOT STIR. DO NOT MOVE. SIMPLY WATCH. This process happens FAST and you are not READY for it.
- The second you see little tiny simmering bubbles (S’s mother-in-law referred to these as “sparkles”, which I thought was wonderful), TAKE THE COFFEE OFF THE HEAT IMMEDIATELY. It’ll continue to spout up beautiful foam and bubble. NEVER let it come to a full boil or you’ll ruin the batch.
- Use a spoon to scoop the foam off the top of the cezve and put a little foam in each cup. If you don’t have enough foam, you either didn’t put in enough coffee grounds, or you overboiled the coffee.
- Pour a tiny bit of coffee from the cezve into each cup in turn. Then pour up to the halfway mark, again one cup at a time. Finally, fill each cup in turn all the way up to the brim. You have to take turns with each cup in this way because otherwise one person will get all the foam and one person will get all the grounds, and that’s just mean.
- Enjoy, preferably while petting a kitty or pupper. ❤