Saturday, September 28, 2013

Menemen and Breakfast in Istanbul

If you think Paris is a moveable feast, it will help to think of Istanbul as an unending block party where lusty flavors fill bowls that never seem to empty. The feast begins at breakfast where tables laden with fresh fruits and vegetables are balanced with the local cheeses and wonderful breads that helped give Turkey its reputation as a food lover's paradise. A typical breakfast includes a unique and slightly milder version of feta cheese called called beyaz peynir. You'll also find wedges of a semi-soft sheep's milk cheese called kasar. There are platters and bowls of butter, olives, eggs, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam, honey and a spicy Turkish sausage called sucuk. If you are lucky you might also be served pastirma, which is a thinly sliced air-dried beef that is spicy like pastrami. There will be filled flaky pastries called b?rek and the ubiquitous Turkish bagel-like rolls called simit. There are bowls of hard boiled eggs and a Turkish egg specialty called menemen. The dish contains eggs, onions, green peppers and tomatoes and it can be scrambled or prepared in the same fashion as a frittata. Interestingly, tea is the beverage of choice for breakfast in Turkey. There is some humor in that. The Turkish word for breakfast is kahvalti, which we were told means before coffee, but we couldn't find brewed coffee in the whole of Istanbul. Believe me we looked. There was lots of the instant variety but we never found a place that served the real thing. That led to much grumbling from the Silver Fox and other aficionados who like their morning coffee strong and intravenously. Today's recipe is for menemen, an egg dish that's crossed borders and worked its way into the cuisine of many countries. In Turkey it's made with a lot more olive oil than I've used in the recipe that appears below. I've cut back to keep you from talking about me, but you should know that Turkish cooks use copious amounts of olive oil and they are very healthy people. Banana peppers are usually used to make this dish, but if they are unavailable bell peppers can be substituted. I really hope you'll try this. It truly is delicious and very easy to make. Here's the recipe.



8 eggs, lightly beaten

2 onions, diced

2 green peppers, sliced crosswise or diced

4 tomatoes, blanched, peeled, seeded and diced

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper


1) Saut

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