Culinary Anthropologist

From tree to treacle

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Smbarnabycarobtree0001.jpgToday Barnaby got rather over-excited when he came across a carob tree growing among the castle ruins in the little village of Kaleköy on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast.

Ever since Barnaby first tasted the deeply fruity and complex treacle-y molasses called pekmez (at Zeliş Farmhouse), he has been a bit obsessed by it.  (He gets like that sometimes).  He has sampled it in grape, mulberry, apple, sugar beet and fig varieties (all delicious), but his clear favourite is the carob kind.  So when he found carob growing wild all over the place in Kaleköy, he couldn’t help but investigate…

Smbarnabydriedcarob0001.JPGBarnaby first found carob pods (keçiboynuzu) in the bustling bazaar in Mardin in southeast Turkey.  He persuaded Anna to buy several kilos so that she can make some carob pekmez at home.

That is if he doesn’t eat them all first.  He’s partial to nibbling on them (thus finding himself in illustrious company, as this is what St John the Baptist is said to have done when wandering in the wilderness). They taste sweet and almost chocolatey – you just need to avoid the hard seeds inside.

Smbarnabypekmez0001.JPGAlong his pekmez-sampling tour of Turkey, Barnaby has particularly enjoyed the unusual apple and sugar beet ones made by Zeliha İrez, the grape pekmez in Cappadocia (which was especially yummy over yoghurt for breakfast), the fig version made by Erhan Şeker (mixed with tahini and soy sauce to make a fantastic sauce for fried aubergine) and Hatice’s very special basil-scented carob pekmez in Kaleköy.  He’s noticed how people tend to make pekmez out of whichever fruit or vegetable is prolific in their area: grapes in Cappadocia, carob along the Mediterranean coast and figs near the Aegean.

Barnaby is still not 100% sure how to make pekmez, but has heard that it involves the use of a special soil which is added to both clarify and thicken it.  He has promised to investigate further and report back. 

Until then, it’s just nice to see him interested in the contents of a bottle without any alcohol in.

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