Ottoman cookbooks with titles like ‘A Treatise on Food’, ‘The Cooks’ Refuge’ and ‘The Woman of the House’ offer recipes both healthful and tasty.
Y ears ago when I embarked on my studies of Turkish cookery, Turkish cookbooks were the first sources I consulted. There were not many of them. The books of Ekrem Muhittin Yeğen and of our famous chef, Necip Ertürk Usta, were the ones most people used. These books, which contained a great number of recipes, were unfortunately not helpful in my research into Ottoman cuisine. To find what I was looking for, I made my way to the antiquarian booksellers. Like a seeker of treasure, I achieved my aim after combing through these shops one by one. I found many books written in the Ottoman script. There was a problem of course: I didn’t know Ottoman. What’s more, these books had no illustrations. Trusting in the dealers’ claims, I bought whatever they gave me. So enthusiastic was I that within a short time I began slowly to decipher the books. And that was when I found myself in a time tunnel.