For the Love of Beets
I had a fairytale grandmother, a German immigrant with a wave in her short dark hair (set with bobby pins) who might have stepped from the pages of the Brothers Grimm. Grandma Grete liked to dress up when she went out, often in a fitted button-front dress, a matching coat, a hat (a rather homely black cloche), and gloves. At home, she wore flowered housedresses and an apron.
For the Love of Hazelnuts
I’ve been familiar with hazelnuts–or filberts as my mother called them–since I was a child, but I first learned to love the buttery-rich fruit during my travels in Turkey, the country that grows over 75% of the world’s crop. At Christmas time, when I was growing up in Michigan, my mother would put a bowl of mixed nuts in their shells on the coffee table along with a metal nutcracker and picks. The rough-shelled walnuts with their soft nuts inside were easiest to crack. And, the dark triangular shell of the Brazil nut intrigued me with its white nutmeat that squeeked when you bit into it. .
Rosewater Turkish Delight
If you’ve ever eaten jellybeans, gummy bears, or cherry-red Swedish fish, you owe a debt to the nougat known by the romantic name Turkish Delight. The shimmery treat has spawned imitators in every culture around the world and was perfected in 18th century Ottoman Istanbul by a confectioner named Haci Bekir. Haci Bekir’s rose, orange, and pistachio-flavored confections gained the admiration of Sultan Mahmud II who anointed him with the esteemed title Helvacibasi, Chief Confectioner at Topkapi Palace.