June 22, 2010 § 6 Comments
If you picture yourself walking down the path of your life, what do you see? A straight path? Hilly with amazing vistas? Through deep dark woods? All of the above? I’m starting to feel like in my own life, I’m taking a rather circuitous, meandering route. It’s as though I’m putsing and poking about, the actual path way off somewhere to the left. Back there, before I got distracted by a berry bush or a patch of wildflowers and wandered off. Sometimes it feels as if there is no continuity, no path at all. But, then I find myself looking at a familiar tree or rock and thinking, ‘hey! I’ve been this way before!’ And, each time I touch back onto the path, I have come at least a very short distance further than I had before. It’s another way in which my cooking, amusingly, mirrors life.
Maybe you do this too. You discover a recipe, or try making something new, and fall in love with it. So you go through a spurt of making it over and over and over. Until it starts to come burbling out of your ears, and then you stop. And completely forget about it. Until you come across it in your old notes to yourself, or a meal somewhere else jogs your memory, or, I don’t know, it comes to you in a dream. Then you start making it again, maybe tweaking it or experimenting with it, making it more your own, and you wonder, ‘Why on earth did I ever stop making this? It’s totally the bomb!’ (yes, I’m sorry to say that inside your mind you still call things ‘the bomb’). But, eventually you stop making it and forget about it, until you rediscover it and reclaim it once more.
Okay, maybe you actually don’t do this, but I can tell you for certain that I do. And, these Turkish flatbreads are a prime example of it. I first encountered a description of Turkish flatbread a few years ago in the great Paula Wolfert’s, The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen. It’s one of a small handful of foods in the book that don’t take between 4 hours and a week to cook, but even if it had, I probably would have made it. In the preface to the recipe Ms. Wolfert conjurs up the aura of a steamy, bustling marketplace in Turkey where she bought slices of the slightly flaky, fragrant bread, bubbling and oozing with pungent cheese, still scalding hot from a coal fired oven. Upon reading it, I immediately went and checked on the price of tickets to Turkey. Yikes! Nothing doing. So, I settled for baking flatbread, though settled is hardly the right word for it. Her version calls for simply stuffing them with runny, stinky (in the good way) teleme cheese, which is what I did. And, for several weeks I did my best to monopolize the local cheese shop’s supply of teleme, and baked veritable stacks of flatbread. But, as suddenly as I started, I stopped. I probably got distracted by a desire to eat tomatoes, or kale, or something.