By Sean Melrose.
"In Istanbul homes, people cook. They make the classics you
find on the menus at the city’s restaurants, but above all they cook dishes
rooted in their family’s origins. What makes Istanbul special is that it brings
together all of the country’s regions, specialties and customs.” ~ Pomme
Larmoyer, p 132.
Part essential cookbook collection material, part key card
to an authentic culinary expedition of Istanbul, traveller, food writer and
editor, Pomme Larmoyer delivers an inspiring golden volume bursting with life
Conveniently, the recipes are divided up into categories and
prefaced with an introduction including artfully labelled maps that guide the
way through old Constantinople, ripe with little tips from Larmoyer who has
done all the scout like groundwork.
Exceptional authentic recipes are complemented by
captivating images from photographers Akiko Ida and Pierre Javelle. Pictured,
are veritable jungles of organised exotic fruits and greens in every type and
size imaginable, lit by bulbs that hang precariously from individual threads as
the afternoon fades, beside row upon row of the freshest fish packed tightly in
ice, shining in the camera lens.
A throng of lively, inviting dishes are captured on the
pages with rustic, weathered accoutrements like weighty bread boards and
specialised Turkish gas stoves. Generously filled plates and pots, vibrant
bowls and brimming cups all cry out to be eaten immediately.
Running throughout the book are illustrations by Zeina
Abirached, reminiscent of ancient pottery artwork that are both delightful and
helpful, like the little cat who pops up to give sage advice, "Warning: this is
hot! Especially if you add a few dried chillies.”
Remember this is the part of the world we have to thank for
mezze, so it’s no surprise that the options for sharing are plentiful. Invite
the troupe around to perhaps try some mussel
fritters, just keep in mind the mezze rules.
"You do not rush a table of mezze; you savour it. Quantities
are small but numerous, like the aromas. You drink - but, again, not too
quickly. ‘It’s not the done thing to get drunk straight away. There are rules.’
I’ve heard it said.” ~ Pomme Larmoyer, p 25.
A recipe that simply cannot be missed from this archive of
Turkish flavour, is of course the Mastic
Turkish Delight. While likely to promote fervour amongst sweet tooths, the
powdered little delicacies are not the only Turkish treats. Contained within
Istanbul Cult Recipes is a whole chapter devoted to sweet Turkish fare.
"It is true that Istanbulites buy Turkish delight rather
than make it. But if you cannot be there, you can always pretend a little with
this recipe.” ~ Pomme Larmoyer, p 234.
There is even a no
bake chocolate cake, referred to as mosaic cake, which, upon slicing,
reveals a mosaic like wall of biscuit, tastily enveloped in a tantalising
Larmoyer is a big believer that the way to get to know a
country is through its kitchens, so it follows that anyone with Istanbul Cult
Recipes under their arm has an opportunity to bring themselves closer to Turkey
and its "megapolis” Istanbul, in the tastiest of ways. Ideal for the suitcase
as much as the home kitchen.
Images and recipes from Istanbul Cult Recipes by Pomme Larmoyer (Murdoch Books, RRP $49.99).