Andrew Dalby introduces Symposiast Pelin Dumanlı
All images: Pelin Dumanlı
Pelin reached Oxford in 2016… at last. She first proposed a paper back in 2012 (‘pushing her luck’, as she says), soon after beginning her master’s at Bilgi University in İstanbul. That proposal wasn’t accepted, but she doesn’t give up easily and found that the topic in July 2016, ‘Offal’, was what she wanted: exactly the theme of her research, and just the kind of food she loves to work with.
Thinking of Oxford as the most prestigious of all the international food symposia she expected a ‘very, very serious’ atmosphere. The lively conversation during drinks in the courtyard on Friday evening, immediately followed by Fergus Henderson’s Bold Offal Feast, made her think again. That weekend she was to meet many chefs and food historians who had until then been names to her: she lists Sally Grainger, Sami Zubaida, Aylin Tan, Merry White and several others… It’s clear that 2016 won’t be her last visit to Oxford.
Pelin had always asked questions about food. Why do we eat tomatoes? Who invented tomato paste? Why do we eat three times a day? What does breakfast mean? “So when I was 15 I asked myself: what will I be in the future? I decided to list my hobbies and interests and to stay in touch with them when choosing a job. My hobbies were eating, cooking, searching out foods, reading about food. The decision seemed to be made for me!”
For her first degree she studied Gastronomy and Culinary Arts at Yeditepe University. Not satisfied with that, she found summer jobs at a Waffle House in Florida, at Dükkan Butchery and Steak House in İstanbul and then, three years running, at Four Seasons Hotel in İstanbul. There she eventually worked as assistant to executive chef Fabio Brambilla (who is now at the Grand Hyatt İstanbul) and she took charge of the poolside kitchen during the summer.
While beginning her master’s, from 2010 to 2013, Pelin was also broadening her experience. She took a job with Otto Restaurants and found herself creating menus and coordinating the work of the four restaurants in the group. Then, a year later, she began to work as manager, writer, local food sourcer and recipe creator for the well-known Turkish chef Refika Birgül, who was continuing to publish regular columns in the national daily Hurriyet and to run regular food events and workshops while, at the same time, devising and hosting Mucize Lezzetler, a series of 39 weekly TV shows.
Pelin now writes under her own name for newspapers and food magazines and has a food blog in Turkish: this is it: https://pelindumanli.wordpress.com/ Somehow she found time to complete her master’s in 2015 and even to get the dissertation published. The title Sakatat means, of course, “offal”!
By 2014 Pelin was ready to fulfil her dream by setting up a culinary atelier and catering company. Foodrum is so named because it is at Bodrum, city and holiday resort in southwestern Turkey, familiar to the odd ancient historian as Halicarnassus. Her aim at first was to focus on tourists who wanted to learn Turkish foodways. With political uncertainty in the region the tourist trade has faltered, but meanwhile there is a growing local demand for food and cookery teaching, as well as innovative catering. This is Foodrum in English: http://foodrum.com/english/
Pelin Dumanlı’s Traditional Tripe Soup, İstanbul Style
300 gr veal tripe
2 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
1 egg yolk
For the sauce:
3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of vinegar
When buying tripe, tell the offal vendor to clean it very well. After you arrive home, wash the tripe properly, then put it in a large casserole, add some salt and 3 liters of water and cook for about 2 hours (a pressure cooker will cook in a shorter time). If white foam appears on the surface, remove it with a spoon. When the tripe tenders, take the cooked tripe out of the water and cut in bite-sized chunks. Do not throw away the water.
In another saucepan melt the butter then add the flour and while stirring, slowly pour about 2 cups of warm boiled water. Then add the tripe. Cook them 15 minutes. Take a few spoons of liquid from the pot and blend well with the egg yolk in a bowl. Then slowly pour the mixture into the pot while stirring very slowly. Cook for another 3-4 more minutes over medium heat.
For the sauce, smash the garlic, put into a small bowl. Add the vinegar. When serving put some tripe soup in the bowls, dress with garlic vinegar and, if you want, add your choice of spices. My suggestion is sumac and red chilli flakes. Afiyet olsun!
Oxford Symposium paper:
Dumanlı, P. ‘Liver For Cats & Kids: the fall of offal in Istanbul cuisine.’ Forthcoming in Offal: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery. London: Prospect Books, 2017
Dumanlı, P. Sakatat: ile ilgili bilinmeyenler ve birbirinden değişik lezzetler. Bodrum, Turkey: Avenue, September 2015
Two articles by Dumanlı
‘Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2016’ [a report on this year’s Symposium] online at https://pelindumanli.wordpress.com/2016/07/18/oxford-symposium-on-food-and-cookery-2016/
‘İstanbul mutfağında sakatat kültürü üzerine bir inceleme: Cumhuriyet’ten günümüze yemek kitaplarında sakatat’ in Yemek ve Kültür no. 34 (2013)