I got to ask Pomme some questions via email, after getting Istanbul Cult Recipes to review…
What draws you to Turkish food, and in particular the food of Istanbul?
Actually Istanbul drove me to Turkish food. First the city is one of my favourite for its beauty and dynamism, and second it gathers all the variety of Turkey (very different people from all over the country, areas, cultures, habits, traditions and modernity, oriental style and trendy places…). I thought such a place was perfect to talk about Turkey, not only a huge country – very rich of particularities from north to south/east/west – but also the former Ottoman empire through which lots of people and cultures have moved during centuries, from Asia to Europe and the Middle East… The whole world used to live in Istanbul ! and still is. Talking about food means talking about all this.
At the end of the book, in About the Author, you say that you can learn everything you need to know about a country from its kitchens. How would you sum up Istanbul as a city from its kitchens?
A place of variety, a crossroads full of tastes, mystery, beauty, stories and fun.
A really intriguing part of the book is that you include a list of restaurants and cafes to visit in Istanbul, to try out different dishes. What inspired you to add this aspect to the book?
I see this collection “Cult Recipes” as a way to travel – through a cookbook. When you walk in Istanbul you (or at least I) want to talk about the places you’ve been and share the smells, tastes, colors, sounds you feel, and you feel a lot of things there. I guess I wanted to talk about concrete places I’ve been to and liked to help the readers to feel a bit of my Istanbul.
If you were going to put together an Istanbul feast, what would you cook and why?
I would start with some meze : kozde patlican, cacik (you definitily have to include yogurt and eggplant in the menu), parsley salad (not really a classic but one of my favorite), lakerda (but not easy to cook), kisir, midye tava… with some raki of course. And then I’ll try to impress my guests with some manti (this you have to try) and as a sweet final touch baklavas or kurabiye with a good turkish coffee. This is not at all a typical turkish menu but dishes I looove.
What do you think a really good cookbook needs to include?
Stories and people (related to food : but who isn’t ?). Cooking is about that : people, places and stories.
If you could do a cookbook for any other cuisine or region, what would it be?
Paris! I would love to talk about my city through its kitchens. I have my ideas on the subject.