Food has memory. Each mouthful transfers those memories directly to the sense centres in the brain, allowing the entire body to engage with the taste. As an expat I started to build these memories of Turkish food later in life, and initially looked on in amazement as my friends went wild for a dish that may not be appetizing to look at or eat. It happens in the opposite direction too.
Now there should be a picture of a scone here, but it being a hectic week I didn't have time to make any. So use your imagination and picture a golden brown bun studded with raisins, the firm crust masks a butter-yellow, springy inside. It smells of warmth and tastes of comfort. The mouths of anyone from Ireland or the British Isles should be watering.
Handing a plate of these to a Turk, smiling proudly at how close they resemble my mother's scones, there is a moment of anticipation before they take one. It's obviously not like baklava, the layers of buttered filo pastry and nuts, so soaked in syrup it melts in the mouth. It's not like simit, the teatime standard, a ring of twisted bread covered in sesame seeds. Perhaps it's a little more like poğaca, soft pastry enclosing cheese or olives. The closest would be kuru pasta; sweet or salty bite-size pastries. So they bite the dry scone and nod faint approval, though it's hard to know do they approve of the scone or the fact that I baked them myself.
I cut my scone in two, lather on butter generously, spread strawberry jam and then, to amazed stares, I top it all with a dollop of sugary whipped cream. As the butter melts I bite and am eleven or twelve years old again. We are in a hotel, sitting down to afternoon tea by a large bay window overlooking Dingle Bay in the southwest of Ireland.
We have been driving past corry lakes and green cliffs on a steep mountain road. In spite of the remoteness of the area there is traffic, slowed further by the narrowness of the road. We have made our way from Tralee, I think, past Castlegregory and Mount Brandon to climb over the Conor Pass. We stopped cautiously at the top of the pass looking south towards Dingle Bay and north to Mount Brandon. Our caution had nothing to do with the many cars and caravans constantly pulling over without regard for pedestrians. It was to do with goats. Years before we stopped here just as a herd of goats was roaming by. My mother decided to take a photo of myself and my sister beside one of the goats. We posed, two skinny-legged kids in shorts. And as the camera shutter clicked our goat friend turned and butted my little sister squarely on her hip. The scene is re-enacted with my little brother as the goat, much to my sister's disgust.
And finally my father asks are we hungry. He has been talking about these scones all day; it will be a big treat, the hotel is famous for them. And in spite of our pre-teen skepticism, he is right: they are the most delicious scones, served at just the right temperature with homemade strawberry jam and magnificent whipped cream. We devour the lot and possibly even order more.
I look up to find my Turkish guests with quizzical looks on their faces. I choose not to tell them my recollections, let them make their own memory of scones - eaten with cream by the foreigner with a wistful grin.
Here's Corinne, the next post in the World Blog Surf Day list. And the WBSD link list, just in case.
Thanks to Sher for arranging World Blog Surf Day and to Anastasia as offical Twitterer for WBSD. Anastasia Ashman (Thandelike) is an American cultural producer based in Instanbul, and is a creator of Expat Harem, the anthology by foreign women about modern Turkey. Her Tweetstream focuses on women, travel and history, and she shares resources for writers/travelers, expats, Turkophiles and culturati of all stripes.
Twitter Home Page: Thandelike