May 29, 2017

Watertown, MA. February, 2011

When I want to cook something that I’ve not made before, I usually do a couple of things. First, I look through all of my cookbooks likely to have a recipe for, let’s say, Imam Bayildi, the storied stuffed eggplant dish simmered in olive oil. Then, I take what I like from each recipe (for this dish, some suggest it be made in a Dutch oven on the stovetop, others in a 350-degree oven) and rely on past knowledge of how to treat any familiar ingredients and on memory of what the dish was like when I’ve tasted it before. My beloved friends the Hagopian Sisters told me that in Armenian, cooking according to what you think it should look like is called “atch-keh-chop.” My spelling is all wrong, but it combines the words for “eye” and “make.” Here’s a photo of the Imam Bayildi I made on a cold winter’s day. The cookbooks on my shelf (The Sultan’s Kitchen, Classical Turkish Cooking and a Turkish “community cookbook” from Berkeley, CA), the familiar ingredients (eggplant, onions, tomatoes, parsley, lots of garlic)...and the rest, well, atch-keh-chop.

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