Sunday, April 28, 2013

Crossing Continents with a Covered Dish

I belong to a Facebook group called Cook's Corner for Expats in Turkey that is a collection of 700 home cooks living in Turkey from all corners of the globe. People use the group to ask each other where to find the elusive ingredient from home (cilantro? black beans? celery?). People also use it to share their excitement when a beloved product from home becomes a regular import in Turkey; I remember the Brits getting really excited about some sort of malt vinegar potato chips.

People post photos of their latest cooking and baking creations. Do you find cooking motivation by seeing what other people have made? I do. So many of the foods are things new to me, especially the Asian dishes. One day I exclaimed: "we need to have a potluck - I want to meet your food - oh, and you too." The idea took off and we instantly filled a roster of 23 people to meet together and share our creations. This is the second potluck of the group.
This is what I brought:
Spinach and Exotic Fruit Salad

 Brooks, an American and cofounder of the group with Virginia,
brought the rice dish
that his family always demands:
Indian Rice With Peas
I was so grateful to Helene
for bringing this Southwestern Salad.
I hadn't tasted a black bean for three years!
You don't know what you miss until you can't have it.
I loved meeting Kuraishini,
an expat from Sri Lanka,
who regularly gives
Sri Lankan cooking lessons
here in Istanbul.
She brought Sri Lankan fish cakes.
For the potluck, she toned down the spiciness.
Ha, bring it on Kuraishini.
 I want to see if I can handle it.
This is a dish from Aura's
hometown in Turkey, Sarma Aşı, 
a particular twist on stuffed grape leaves.
The bulgur, which has walnuts in it,
is stuffed into the grape leaves with a gherkin.
It's called Burdur Sarmaaşı.
Oh, this was so delish!
Underneath that spinach roll
was homemade dark and nutty German black bread.
The above food and the next two photos of food
were made by
a lovely young Pole named Aleksandra
who probably bakes and cooks
in the five or six languages she speaks!

 Gluten-free mini Zucchini Pizzas
made by Nicki from Long Island, New York
 Virginia, an American who used to own a popular café
in Istanbul's Sultanahmet neighborhood,
brought Hoppin' John, a traditional Afro-American dish
made with ham hocks.
Ham hocks weren't available in Istanbul
so Virginia used home-raised bacon from Serbia.
She had a non-pork version there too for the Muslims,
which was nice, as our hostess Kathy
was an American Sufi.
Kathy has a personal shopping business
and had just shown travel entrepreneur Rick Steves
around the bazaars earlier in the week.
 Salmon Quiche brought by
 Hawaiian Island native Becky from Maui.
I hadn't had scalloped potatoes in years either.
Western civilization comfort food!
an Australian with Cypriot heritage
brought this.
A traditional Austrian Sacher torte,
a chocolate cake
with a rum-apricot glaze
and a Pariser Crème glaze.
It was to die for.
An American named Franklin Orosco made this.
He used to own a café in Lithuania.
He made these
 Powidl Taschl, Mohn Plunder
and Apfel Plunder too.
These were so warm and wonderful.
I could just imagine Austrian children eating them
and becoming emotionally attached.
Franklin's creations were made with such
skill and pride.
You heard it here first (it's still a bit of a secret)
but Franklin Orosco is going to be offering baking lessons
here in Istanbul. Sssshhh. That's still on the QT.
This delectable dessert
is called an Eton Mess.
It was brought by a proud Englishman, Michael.
It was so fun to hear about the history of this dish.
American readers, what should I bring next time that represents American culture? My spinach salad couldn't burn or scorch and I thought of bringing an Arabic fattoush salad next time for the same reason. But I so loved sampling other people's "national dishes" that I feel I should 'represent' American food heritage.
I do make an amazing guacamole that used to make an appearance every Super Bowl game. I could bring that. What other dishes would you suggest that 'represent' American culinary heritage?
This is the first time I've ever taken a ferry and a cab to a potluck. I crossed from Europe, where I live, to Asia, where Kathy lives. What a lovely neighborly experience: crossing continents with a covered dish.
Photos courtesy of Brooks Emerson
Here are some other cooking posts you might enjoy:
Why yes, I'm on Facebook, you should 'like' my page: Empty Nest Expat!


Anonymous said...

We are all so happy that our food met your food -- and meeting greeting you also. We of the Cook's Corner plan to do this type of event again, and again, and again. Thanks so much for your lovely comments.

B Emerson said...

Great write-up. Thanks so much. It was a lot of fun. I can't wait to get your salad recipe so that I can make that again. It was delicious!

Helene said...

Karen, Great post...we had fun sharing our dishes and meeting new friends, yes? I'm thinking of making Apple Pie next time (how much more American can I get??) since I brought back sticks of Crisco and a real pie pan from home in January when I brought back the black beans.
Which continent will we be on, I wonder!

İbrahim KAPLAN said...

Your spinach-fruit salad was really great. Actually, I enjoyed everything on my ample plate, so I agree with your comments. You have a super blog - keep it up.

Ozlem's Turkish Table said...

What a lovely get together you all had, I loved the look of every single dish here - wish I could be nearby! - this is a wonderful community and happy to be a part of even via England :) look forward to checking out your Fb page! best wishes, Ozlem

Senior Dogs Abroad said...

Karen, Great photos of food that looked as delicious as it no doubt was. In my opinion, since America is a land entirely of immigrants, American food is any kind of food really. But if I were to vote for any of the dishes as being more typically American, I'd go for the scalloped potatoes.

nickandra said...

Love the post, love your blog!! It was great meeting your food and you, abd everyone else. This was one of my first expat gatherings, had an awesome time, and can't wait for the next one!

Suzanne said...

What a wonderful potluck that was! I used to work in the "miscellaneous languages" department of the Univ. of Illinois library and the potlucks we had were similarly epic and international.

My suggestions for your next "all-American" contribution are mac & cheese (add some jalapeno!), chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, chicken wings... But your guacamole would be perfect!

Karen said...

Thank you Anonymous, Brooks, and Ibrahim, Nickandra for your kind words. Ozlem, I love the idea of you reading my blog because I learn so much from yours. Wow, Helene, Crisco in your suitcase, now that's dedication! Senior Dogs, scalloped potatoes is an outstanding idea, and I do make a great pan of scalloped potatoes (usually I added chopped smoke ham to it too), Suzanne, my salad recipe came from one of the Junior League of Denver's fabulous cookbooks. I adore those cookbooks. I love your suggestions for all-American food too. Non-Americans adore chocolate chip cookies. I do make wonderful banana bread. I also thought of the to-die for recipe I have for corn bread from the Bald Plate Inn in Colorado too. I love hearing these suggestions!

Joy said...

Hi Karen, so wish I could have joined you guys! Looks like I missed a wonderful outing at Kath:-( American-ish dishes that I'd recommend - black bean salsa (you can buy the beans at most Macro Centers), corn chowder, chocolate chip cookies baked in a pan instead, brownies, NY cheesecake, mac-n-cheese, chili? Good luck!

Karen said...

I thought about you Joy, because I know how much you would have enjoyed it. Thanks for the tip about finding black beans at Macro Center. I will look more diligently because I have not yet seen them there. Thanks for the recommendations too!

Dan Perry said...

Wow, that's a lot of food, and great variety. I'm impressed.

Karen said...

Just like out Couchsurfing potlucks in Madison, Dan!

Backto Bodrum said...

I sometimes wish I lived a bit nearer to Istanbul.

Karen said...

If I ever get to Bodrum, BtoB, I'm looking you up!

Anonymous said...

Scalloped potatoes! yumm!

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