Posted by: mollyscafeistanbul | August 12, 2009

what food do you miss?

best carrot cake and mayonnaise chocolate cake

best carrot cake and mayonnaise chocolate cake

i am reading a book called Paris to the Moon, written by an American expat who lived in paris.  i went to paris and was not enamoured of it (i think it suffers in comparison to istanbul), but it is interesting to read about the things that he and his family misses.  i have been living here for 11 years, and i remember that when i first came here, there were things i could not find or were not here to  be found, so i had long lists of shopping for when i went to north america or when north americans were coming to visit.  among these were good coffee, brown sugar, peanut butter, and cheddar cheese.  from this list, i still request everything except coffee, as i have found where to get it and of course the coffee culture has spread to istanbul.

so, let me tell you that in my cafe i have precious cheddar cheese in the fridge and freezer, jars of peanut butter, and brown sugar in the cupboard.  i learned to fudge brown sugar (you can either substitute white sugar or add a little bit of pekmez), but it is not quite the same.  you can find peanut butter here, but it is sweetened, like jif, and i prefer peanut butter that is made from just peanuts.  i suppose i could make my own if i had a good blender.  oh, blenders– the ones i have found here run from the top, so you can’t drip things into the top as it is blending, like north american ones.  i had thought of making my own mayonnaise, but lack of that kind of blender has stopped me.

i think the main niche that my cafe fills is to provide some of the food that many expats crave.  turkish food is fabulous, but you can only eat so many kebabs, pides, or mezes.  my very first special dinner was macaroni and cheese, with real canadian cheddar, and the guests were oohing and ahing at this simple but now exotic comfort food.  truthfully, i can’t cook turkish food, except for coban salata and ready manti, but i have been baking chocolate chip cookies for years (even the chocolate chips here are different– littler), along with cakes and other cookies (mmm, peanut butter chocolate chip cookies).

turks are justifiably proud of their cuisine, but sometimes it is nice to just eat something familiar and homey.  we all have our own comfort food and in the cafe i aim to make people comfortable.  and i make the best carrot cake in istanbul, not to mention the famous mayonnaise chocolate cake.


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