Madrid Fusion Day Two – Culinary Anthropology – Turkey

OK, back to Madrid Fusión 2009!

It is not easy getting up early in Madrid. It is even more difficult
getting up early enough to get ready, have a light breakfast and get
the Metro from central Madrid out to the Palacio Municipal de Congresos
at the Campo de Las Naciones Metro stop. Make no mistake, 9:30AM is an
early start in Madrid! Nevertheless, as the first two presentations of
the day held some interest for me, I made the sacrifice to get out
there for the start of the day.

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The cuisine of Turkey is one with which I am not particularly familiar, but would like to be. The day's first presentation was from Musa Dagdeviren, a chef and researcher of traditional Turkish cooking and culinary history particularly from the area of Cappadocia. He cooks at his three restaurants in Asian Istanbul. The restaurants called  Ciya Kebap, are kebab houses. In addition to his work with kebabs, Dagdeviren, maintains a special interest in cheeses, greens and herbs.

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Dagdeviren spoke in Turkish with an assistant translating into English for the crowd (though I speak a fair Spanish, I still tend to use the translation service though it is nice when I don't have to). Unfortunately, I never did get his assistant's name.

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The chef prepared two dishes. The first was a form of kebab. In his recipe for Onion Kebab, Dagdeviren skewers shallots and lamb on sticks, however, for his presentation he made something a bit different: he threaded shallots on one string and lamb on another along. Each of the lamb pieces was enveloped by a type of fruit leather made from mulberry molasses. Both of these were cooked in a hot pan, although it appeared that the chef had some trouble with his equipment and wound up burning the shallots a bit. He served the kebabs with a pomegranate and chile sauce.

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His second dish was a labor intensive "poor-man's" dish, "Wheat Balls with Cacik." Dagdeviren spent quite a while laboring, kneading bulgur wheat, onion, eggs and spices together in a bowl. I was beginning to sweat just watching him. Cacik is a goat's milk yogurt based combination of ingredients that served as a bed for his meat-less balls.

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