Like any human, I have my faults, but some (OK, my husband) might say my need to correct others on their pronunciation of the beloved Turkish street food and market stall favourite, gőzleme, is right at the top of the list.
I don't mean to be rude - I really don't - but after having stood in line under a hot sun and listened to variations of 'gohzlemy' and 'gohzleem' my left eye begins to twitch and before my husband can stop me, I tap the offender on the shoulder lightly and say, "It's pronounced 'gerz-leh-meh' without too much emphasis on the r."
Then, with my teeth firmly biting down on my tongue to prevent it from unleashing at the vendor (internal dialogue: "Why don't you do your job as a Turk and teach your customers – people who are here every freakin' weekend - to pronounce the word correctly?"), I smile like I've had way too much lithium and hope I don't get punched while I wait for my own order.
"Why don't you do your job as a Turk and teach your customers?"
My love affair with the dish we all recognise from the stall with the longest queue at any given weekend marketplace, festival or fair (would it kill them to have more than one stall?) started when I was in Istanbul as a kid. Waiting for a boat in the upscale European suburb of Ortakőy, located right under the Bosphorus Bridge, my mother grabbed me a quick bite for the road and Lord, it was like When Harry met Sally, the PG-version. I've been eating it like a longhaired pig ever since.
This filled Turkish pastry has become a staple at markets across Sydney and Australia. Made with soft dough rolled out until thin, it is then filled with any number of things, including the ever-popular spinach and feta. Here, we’ve used lamb, silverbeet and feta for a spin on the classic.
Now I know how to pronounce gőzleme, what is it?
Much like everything else in Turkey, the origins of one of our most popular dishes is argued about endlessly – usually over overfilled ashtrays and beneath bullet hole-riddled ceilings. Some claim the Anatolian classic goes back hundreds of years, while others insist it's thousands, but let's just say there's evidence of it being served in palace kitchens as early as the 15th century.
On paper, gőzleme doesn't sound like much: dough that is rolled until thin, filled with toppings (feta and spinach – 'ıspanakli', and beef mince and fried onion 'kıymalı' are two of the most popular options), sealed and brushed with oil then cooked on the sac or grill. But do you know what else doesn't sound like much until you're face to face? Brad Pitt. Exactly.
Although it can be purchased throughout the country, the best ones are found centred around the Anatolian region where it originated, and I'm convinced the 'best, best' ones are the ones you purchase from a sour-faced woman in a white headscarf who glares at you whenever you ask for an extra piece of lemon. Don't let that put you off; that second piece of citrus makes all the difference.
What makes good gőzleme? (and other important questions)
As a card-carrying Turk, the question I get asked the most (after pronunciation) is: "What's the difference between a good gőzleme and a bad one?" The answer is as simple as, if the lady making them is stingy with the ingredients, or is drowning the grill in oil, you need to walk away immediately. Gőzleme should have a generous amount of filling and be lightly brushed with oil, not soaking in it.
Other questions I'm asked regularly I will attempt to answer here:
Q: Is it OK to ever order a banana and Nutella gőzleme or a chicken and ham one?
Q: Are the supermarket heat-and-eat versions as good as what you get at the markets?
A: You could try them but I've yet to come across one that doesn't make me vomit, just a little.
Q: What am I supposed to do with the lemon that comes with it?
A: You must drown your dish until it is as sour as a warhead. Enjoy.
Q: How do you pronounce sucuk and pide?
A: Sucuk - great option for gőzleme, is pronounced soojook, while pide is pih-deh.
Q: Why doesn't your husband leave you?
A: I'm going to hazard a guess and say he's probably too frightened to.