Tastes From Neighboring Salonica

Greece’s second largest city, salonica is the country’s gastronomical capital according to some.

Home to a combination of cuisines due o its historical and geographical position, Salonica oasts a cosmopolitan eating and drinking culture. Vestiges of the population exchange between Greece nd Turkey run deep here. At the same time, this mutual xchange of thousands of people inevitably added urther richness to the town’s already existing cuisine.

Indeed, certain dishes and desserts that had been bandoned, or were on the brink of oblivion, in Istanbul re still made and sold in Salonica today. And with heir Turkish names no less. Greeks who migrated from stanbul especially are proud to be keeping Istanbul uisine alive and well in their everyday lives.

Although migrants from the Black Sea generally work here in he construction sector, they traditionally produce a weet known as ‘trigona’, a variation on the baklava f the Laz people of Turkey’s Black Sea region. The ood market at the center of Salonica, whose Aegean limate is marked by Mediterranean accents, is tiny ut a virtual feast of flavors reflecting the authentic Aegean character.

It is therefore a special pleasure fter first exploring the market to one’s heart’s content nd working up an appetite to sit down to a modest ut gastronomically magnificent meal in a restaurant n Nea Smyrna, or ‘the New Smyrna’. And a post- randial Turkish coffee sipped at the big coffeehouse pposite Ataturk’s House immediately conjures up memories.

You can experience both Istanbul and zmir simultaneously in Salonica. You can also find in he city’s cuisine the richness not only of the Balkan uisines but also of the cuisine brought from Spain y the Sephardic Jews. In other words, you can find n Salonica’s many cuisines the multiplicity of history self as you follow its footsteps in both its urban manifestations and the simpler tastes of the countryside.

DOLMA STUFFING WITH YOGHURT (SERVES 6)

INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup bulghur,
3/4 cup ‘ayran’ (buttermilk),
salt,
1/2 cup yoghurt,
250 g ‘ekşimik’ (curd cheese),
1/2 bunch fresh mint,
1/2 cup vegetable oil,
1 bunch green onions,
1 tsp hot red pepper,
1/2 cup water.

PREPARATION: Soak the bulghur overnight in the water and buttermilk. In the morning, add to it the salt, yoghurt, curd cheese and the washed and finely chopped mint leaves.

In a separate pot saute the finely chopped green onions in oil. Add the red pepper, pour over the bulghur mixture and mix well. Serve either as is, or with boiled vine leaves.

KAÇAMAK (SERVES 12)

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 liters of water,
1/2 kg ‘lor’ (Turkish cream cheese), c
orn flour and salt as needed.

PREPARATION:
First boil the water in a pot. Then add corn flour slowly, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to keep it from clumping. Continue adding corn flour and stirring until it reaches a thick consistency and all the water has been absorbed.

Remove the pot from the fire and stir vigorously, slowly adding the salt and ‘lor’ cheese and a little butter to keep it from clumping together. Serve hot.

BARBUŞKA (serves 6)
Ingredients:
1 cup ground walnuts,
2 cups granulated sugar,
3 cups water,
corn flour and wheat flour as needed (in equal amounts),
3 tbsp butter.

Preparation:
Saute the ground walnuts in the butter, then add the water. When the water boils, add the sugar and mix well. Then slowly add the wheat flour and corn flour, stirring constantly until the mixture reaches the consistency of milk pudding. Pour into individual serving dishes and let cool.
Serve chilled topped with ground walnuts and pomegranate seeds.