Posts Tagged ‘recipes’


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.



Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Enterprising readers!  Thanks to those of you who have already submitted Gogol/ Google puns, many of which made my head explode.  Please note that there are still two days left of the contest.  Yes, dark horses, that means you!

Meanwhile, I am proud to inform those of you who weren’t in Iowa this afternoon that I was a featured guest on today’s edition of Great Taste, a food-themed talk show on KRUU, the voice of Fairfield. I talked about, and read an editorial outtake from, my New Yorker profile of chef Musa Dağdeviren.  (The outtake is up here.)  The incredibly kind host, Steve Boss, honored the venerable Turkish culinary tradition by preparing white bean soup and mücver in the studio kitchen. Or at least he said he did; and those who would like to try to distinguish the sound of white bean soup with their own ears will have their chance tomorrow (Thursday) morning at 7AM Central Time when the show will be rebroadcast and streamed live.  In the meantime, here is a recipe for mücver (zucchini fritters) by my comp-lit colleague Burcu.

In other outtake news, I was recently asked by Time magazine to write 100-200 words about what I’m reading this summer.  (Actually, the email forwarded to me by my publicist read as follows: “I’d love to get Elife [sic.] Batuman to talk to us about what’s in her beach bag.”  I later shared this communication with a colleague, whose reply provided much food for thought: “Time wants you to tell America what’s in your beach bag?  Holy shit.  That’s amazing.  So many ways to answer that. Perhaps you should just keep it simple and say ‘a big black dildo,’ which pretty much covers the bases.”)

As it happens, what I was reading at the time was Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (1748), written by John Cleland while he was in debtor’s prison.  Personally, I found Fanny Hill to be a page-turner, but it isn’t for everyone.  I realized this, conclusively, when I got to the part where the teenage prostitute narrator and her teenage prostitute friend rape a mentally disabled guy in order to determine empirically whether it’s true that mentally disabled guys are particularly well-endowed.  According to their findings, it is true.  “Its enormous head seemed, in hue and size, not unlike a common sheep’s heart,” Cleland writes, in a generous descriptive passage which goes on for like three pages before concluding: “Nature, in short, had done so much for him in those parts, that she perhaps held herself acquitted in doing so little for his head.”  I guess, that time he meant the one on his shoulders.



Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Today I would like to salute some of the diverse and accomplished commenters to My Life and Thoughts, for example Michelle of The Maltese Bacon (a recipe blog—check out this beautiful tomato confit); as well as Gregory Freidin of the Stanford Slavic department (who, in his latest blog entry, shrewdly observes that, even if you live in Gori, you probably don’t hang your portrait of George W. Bush over a sliding glass door). 

In this recent, admirably concise comment, Freidin expresses solidarity with my father on the subject of creeping desecularization. Those of you who were disappointed by the Times’s decision not to air my father’s thoughts about creeping desecularization will be relieved to learn that they did publish the very next letter he wrote them, the following week.  This letter was in response to “My Literary Malady,” in which novelist Geoff Nicholson mulls over his recent gout diagnosis.  


James Gillray, The GOUT (1799)

But I would like to pause here to share with you my all-time favorite gout anecdote…


These crazy girls will eat anything!

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Today marks the first solo book release by my colleague Lauren Mechling—you know, the one who was delivered by the same obstetrician as me.  It hasn’t been out for 24 hours yet and already Dream Girl is challenging my poor battered gender stereotypes (I think they’re part of my decrepit worldview).  So remember the relatively recent post when I was like, “Oh, girls would be embarrassed to talk about the gross things they eat made out of peanut butter?”  Well, I was really wrong, because check out this excerpt from the “Lauren Mechling extravaganza” on the blog YA New York, in which Lauren and the author of said blog, Sabrina Banes, take turns asking each other twenty questions:

Question Sixteen

LM: What’s the embarrassing thing you regularly eat by your lonesome? It has to be something that no sane human would ever serve in a restaurant.
YA NY: Oh my God. You’re really trying to torture me, aren’t you, asking questions like these? Okay, here’s the thing I eat when I’m sick: Peanut butter rice soup. Basically, you take leftover rice (the kind used in making sushi, which is short-grained and what Koreans eat on a daily basis) and you cover it with water and let it boil. Add two tablespoons of peanut butter, and simmer until you get a weird brown porridge. It’s like chicken soup for the crazy half-Korean girl.

Question Seventeen

YA NY: Fine, Ms. Lauren. What embarrassing food do YOU eat on your lonesome?
LM: Oh, I was hoping you’d ask! I like instant couscous, boiling hot water, worsterschire sauce, a pat of butter, and a sprinkle of salt.

I mean, true, confessing these “recipes” is described as “embarrassing,” “torture,” etc… but if the discussants were really embarrassed, they could always have said “ice cream sundaes.”  In short: if you can figure out gender stereotypes, dear reader, may they bring you much happiness; personally, I give up.