One of my favorite parts of traveling in Turkey earlier this year was eating the food. Other people raved about the shish, and yes, it was good, but I was completely blindsided by something else: Gözleme. I first had this for lunch in a tiny hillside town of Şirince and after that first taste sought it out everywhere else we went.**
Gözleme is kind of like a quesadilla in that it is dough with things (oh, such good things) inside, but the dough itself is almost a hybrid between a tortilla and a crepe (less bread-y than a tortilla but less egg-y than a crepe). People put all manner of goodness into the dough, including eggplant, cheese of some sort(s), mushrooms, potatoes, spinach, onions, meat, or whatever else might by lying around. My preference is everything listed above besides the meat, but I really don’t think there’s a wrong way to do it.
After the dough is prepared, the cook rolls it out into a very thin circle, fills one side with the fillings, then folds the other half over calzone-style and seals the edges. Then it goes on an inverted griddle – kind of like an inside-out wok – until the dough gets some brown spots. Flip it over, rub the whole thing with butter, and you’re good to go!
According to this website – which is, coincidentally, a recipe for gözleme should you be looking for one – says that the name for the dish actually comes from the Turkish word “goz” which means “eye” because the brown spots on the cooked dough look like eyes. I guess. You be the judge.
Here’s a photo of (the end of) that first beautiful gözleme. And don’t you worry – this was just a momentary pause in the middle of my lunch: the rest of that was eaten up right quick!
Before you say anything mean about the photo, I’d like to see what you look like when you’re trying to drink from two different straws while simultaneously holding the pose for a picture. (Fresh Squeezed Pomegranate Juice and F.S.O.J. – can’t beat it.)
*Admittedly, that series did not last long, although not for lack of material.
**This proved to be more difficult than you might imagine, as once in a while people would laugh at me for ordering a “snack” dish for dinner. “We don’t make that after 3 p.m.,” they’d say, stifling a smile.
One more thing: remind me to tell you my thoughts about eggplant sometime, and rice&beans. I know, I know…you think rice&beans is nothing new, but the way we had it at the outdoor restaurant in what used to be the old marketplace next to the Suleymaniye Mosque made me think twice about my preconceptions, too.