That’s Nobody’s Business But The Turks’
One of the department heads of our Customer Service department is from Turkey…Istanbul (not Constantinople). He's lived in the States 20 years or so, and goes back to Turkey once or twice a year to see his mama, to eat his childhood food, see friends, take photos for us of the Bosporus and the mosques and the open air markets. He used to be a professional soccer player, he’s well-spoken, truly nice, and always smells good. Whenever he gets a new cologne, he comes by my cube and says, “How about this one?”, and lets me press my nose into his neck for a good, deep inhale. They’re always swoon-material.
Let’s call this guy Constantine.
Constantine is a great cook.
Let me say that again.
To thank the IT department for all we did for him this past year, Constantine made us a pan of baklava.
Not just a wee little pan, either, nossirree bob, he used one of those professional bakers’ pans, those things that Rachel Ray and Emeril and the Good Eats guy uses. Bigger than a jellyroll pan. Deeper. Thicker. Better.
Ten minutes ago, Constantine wheeled in a pan of his homemade baklava, dripping with syrup and spiked with citrus peel, stuffed full of chopped walnuts, blanketed top and middle and bottom with crunchy, flaky pastry.
It’s on our IT food table.
And it’s ONLY for us.
For the 8 of us. Constantine’s orders.
Constantine and I had the first two pieces. The nutty sugar dripped between our fingers as we haphazardly tried to use paper towels for plates. We stood facing each other, munching, not speaking but moaning softly, our knees buckling, our eyes twinkling and then rolling back like sharks with mawfuls of prey. After the first piece, we gazed at the mountain of baklava left, and chatted about the Ottomans, and how as they traveled throughout the Middle East, their cooks left the recipe for many things, most notably this. Different people make it different ways. The Greeks use honey. The Turks, corn syrup, which makes for a lighter, softer pastry, and they add lemon and orange zest, and more spices.
We looked at each other. We looked at the baklava.
Who were we fooling?
We grabbed clean paper towels and each took another piece.
“Oh boy, I’ll have to work out extra hard tonight!”, Constantine laughed.
“Mrfmmlrp mooop!”, I grinned.
Who were we fooling?
No we won’t!
Even old New York was once New Amsterdam….