The Turkish Cookbook is shortlisted for André Simon Awards
Musa Daĝdeviren’s exhaustive but never exhausting look at Turkish cuisine is recognised for its seasonal detailing
Sometimes, the simplest recipes are the best. The Turkish Cookbook might sound like a straightforward collection of recipes, yet its author, the cook, restaurateur and culinary researcher Musa Daĝdeviren approaches his country’s gastronomic traditions with the care and focus of a dedicated anthropologist, piecing together the regional specialties as few before him have done.
Take for example the recipes’ seasonal details. Goat meatballs with yoghurt sauce calls for dried cucumber skins, which tend to be preserved for the winter, which is when that dish is made, writes Daĝdeviren; meatballs with sour cherries, meanwhile, is for the summer, when that fruit is in season.
These details that lie at the book’s heart, says its author. “Seasons are vital,” explain Daĝdeviren in a recent interview with The Robb Report. “That’s how it works at Çiya [Daĝdeviren’s outstanding Istanbul restaurant] as well. For instance, a note was put down on the recipe of a food made of greengage indicating that it should be eaten during spring.”
“There is information on dishes eaten at a feast, Easter, Passover supper, Nevruz, the spring celebration Hıdırellez, wedding days and funeral wakes. I also wrote texts explaining meal habits of different regions in our country,” he goes on. “With these rituals, we tried to unveil the relations between the traditional and the local.”
And in singling these details out, Daĝdeviren has won over readers far beyond his homeland, and gained a place at another, slightly newer, end-of-year ritual.
The Turkish Cookbook has been shortlisted for The André Simon food book award of 2019. These annual prizes, founded in 1978, honour André Louis Simon, the 20th century, French-born, UK-based author, wine merchant and co-founder of the International Food and Wine Society. They are the only awards in the UK to exclusively recognise the achievements of food and drink writers, and are the longest continuous running prizes of their kind.
We’ll have to wait a few weeks to see whether Daĝdeviren’s seasonal details win out this year. The winner will be announced at a ceremony in central London on Monday, 20 January 2020; until then, if you would like to see out 2019 Turkish style, or make something to suit any other time of the year, order a copy of The Turkish Cookbook.