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Posts Tagged ‘food’


Monday, March 19th, 2012

Thrifty readers! I’m really happy to report that two of the Turkey-related stories I wrote for the New Yorker are now available for free! Click here to read about Neolithic man, here for restaurant criticism, and here to buy this man a sandwich:


“Information must belong to the people!”


Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Big thanks to Eugene Ostashevsky for introducing me to Vasily Kamensky’s immortal “Constantinople”: “a milestone,” as Ostashevsky observes, “in the history of Russian travel writing about Turkey.”


“Constantinople” originally appeared in Ferro-Concrete Poems (1914),“a work… famous primarily for being made entirely of commercially produced wallpaper.”



Saturday, October 29th, 2011

Earlier this month, I was very happy to spend two days at the Frankfurt Book Fair, promoting the German edition of my book and impressing the German media with my air of misery and depression. I am told that the following headline, from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Feuilleton, alludes to the terrible time I was having (full text up here):

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The photo caption, according to Google Translate: “Elif Batuman, just before the bad mood was.”

I do remember being puzzled by that interview, since the interviewer didn’t actually ask any questions; he mostly just wanted to discuss his theory that the attendees of the Frankfurt Book Fair are possessed by literature. Historically, of course, it is a very thin line separating the possessed from the grouchy.

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Monday, June 13th, 2011

No big surprises from the Turkish parliamentary elections yesterday, but I did want to share my favorite item of pre-election news: a speech in which the leader of the far-right nationalist party mispronounced bisküvi (biscuit) as püskevit. I’ve been trying to think of how to translate püskevit to convey the right effect.  Piscuit?  Bisguit?  Bisguat? In the speech he is saying something like, “Children watch TV commercials, they see smiling children eating chocolate and piscuit, and they think: ‘if only I had chocolate – if only I had piscuit!  Mother, get me chocolate!  Get me piscuit!’”

Within days/ hours, there was a site online (it shows a screenshot of the entry for “biscuit” in the Turkish Language Institute dictionary) and a number of “püskevit remixes” (my favorite here).

The nationalists subsequently announced that “püskevit” was a regional (Adana/ Osmaniye) pronunciation, and that a popular snack food (“Anatolian fast-food”) back in the day was a sandwich made with two biscuits and a piece of Turkish delight (lokum).  It’s not totally clear to me whether the idea is that “püskevit” was the Adana word for the biscuit-lokum sandwich, or, as seems more likely, just the word for biscuits in general; in any case, this sandwich, under the name “püskevit,” rapidly became a standard snack at nationalist rallies. Püskevit pride was also (re)awakened in Adana where, according to a local locum maker, this noble snack was once served at weddings and on Mohammed’s birthday:



Comme il faut

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010

Tasteful readers!  Many thanks to everyone who submitted Kafka porn contest entries!  Frankly I received a few that were maybe a teeny bit more literal than I had been expecting, but I believe this is what makes the internet great.  I am delighted to announce the winning entry, by Lydia Kiesling: “Kafka porn is snuff porn that you didn’t actually watch but got arrested for anyway.”  An honorable mention goes to Dimiter Kenarov, for “undressing a person only to find new and new layers of clothing underneath.”  Unfortunately, neither Kiesling nor Kenarov wants the grand prize (my bed), so they get book prizes and I’m trying to sell the bed on Craigslist; big thanks to Andrew Leland of the Believer for already purchasing my (and my intern’s) favorite red chair, as well as two lamps, an ottoman, a saucepan, a carpet steam-cleaner, some geranium-scented laundry detergent, and approximately eight pounds of rice.  Buon appetito, Mr. Leland!

In other exciting news from the C-plus-list, I recently got my first magazine story killed!  It was a searing personal memoir of my Kindle drunk-dialing problem, commissioned by O, the Oprah Magazine, a publication to which I will always be grateful for its support of The Possessed. Unfortunately, as Oprah herself will tell you, no relationship is 100% smooth sailing, and O and I just weren’t able to see eye-to-eye on my Kindle drunk-dialing problem.  As a result, I recently received my first kill fee: a strange experience, because you realize at a certain point that what they are saying to you is basically “Take the money, take the money—just don’t make us publish it!”  For this reason, when I read the invoice that said “KILL FEE/ DRUNKEN KINDLE,” a tiny part of me felt like I had extorted Oprah. It was a strange, not un-empowering feeling.


In further empowering news, I am honored and happy to report that the Guardian ran a version of the Kindle piece on Saturday, so  nobody has to suffer in suspense regarding my super-classy ebook habits.  Read it and weep!  I mean it—it’s all very sad.