I stumbled upon a patch of mint in the side yard last week and the prospect of creating a Thanksgiving meal suddenly changed from dreary to dreamy. I’m amongst a tiny minority of people who don’t like turkey and an even tinier minority of people who don’t like potatoes, so a Thanksgiving meal is especially challenging, although I’ve certainly performed that chore of love dozens of times.
The mint-inspired possibilities started to percolate and a Meze platter was beginning to take shape with a decidedly Turkish flare. Some Acılı Ezme Salatası, a warm and spicy Patlicanli Pilav, a nutty Amolesilli Lobio, and a cooling dollop of Cacik seemed just the ticket for a tasty Turkey dinner.
I discovered Turkish cuisine while living in Vienna, Austria and it has always remained flavorfully memorable. Austria can also thank Turkey for its now famous Viennese Coffee House Culture. During the second Turkish siege in 1683, which was thwarted, several sacks of strange beans were found and presumed to be camel feed. It was coffee!
As with the traditional dinner that features a large bird, this meal took three days to prepare, largely because so many varieties of beans needed to be soaked and then cooked. The house smelled of a magical combination of herbs, ginger, garlic, aromatic spices, and citrus and the finished plate a colorful painter’s palette of palate-pleasing textures.