Culinary Anthropologist

Secret Kitchen menu, 22nd Jan 2012

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a breakfast tour

Bloody Mary
Turkish nibbles

Polish żurek

Ethiopian ful

Blood orange sorbet


About today’s menu

It’s amazing how breakfast differs around the world.  We thought we’d found our favourite ever in Poland several years ago.  When staying on a smallholding we woke to bowls of traditional żurek, full of homemade sausages, eggs from the hens, fermented rye juice, and sour cream made from the milk of the cow in the barn.  Żurek belongs to a family of sour soups found across central and Eastern Europe.  In this case, the sourness is from a fermented mix of rye flour and water, flavoured with garlic, allspice and bay.  We don’t have our own hens or cows, but we did make the sausages.  

More recently the Ethiopian breakfast of ful, eaten particularly in Muslim areas, trumped our Polish soup.  We learnt that ‘special ful’ on a menu meant a steaming bowl of spicy pulses beautifully garnished with egg, yoghurt, chillies, onion, tomatoes and green lentils, and we ordered it whenever we saw it.  Variants of ful are eaten all over the Arabic world, most notably Egyptian ful medames, made from dried broad beans.  One can visit a lot of historic palaces and churches with a belly full of beans.  

The blood orange sorbet is a nod to the best part of every Moroccan breakfast I’ve ever had – a huge glass of thick, sweet freshly squeezed orange juice.  Move aside Tropicana.

We’ve topped and tailed the menu with Turkish treats, as Turkey is full of amazing breakfasts – in fact we ended up at a conference on the subject.  Without salty white cheese and black olives it is not a proper breakfast.  But when breakfasts weren’t leisurely two hour affairs, we would go for a shot of thick Turkish coffee (‘medium sweet’) with a sticky square of baklava.  I have been practising baklava ever since watching the master Güllüoğlu bakers in Gaziantep for whom it is a life’s calling.

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