Peynirli Poğaça: Karagöz urges me to get baking and forget academia

Those puppets, well, they are at it again. They are always nattering on and on, sometimes up to no good, sometimes up to good, scheming with the best of intentions and the worst at times – and discussing things that are going on in my life.  And while I am sure it is all for the greater good, sometimes I do tire of them despite the fact that I am secretly in love with them and the way that they allow me to see more clearly how I am thinking and feeling about the life I am steeped in.

Karagöz came to warn me about what the little chorus of dancing ladies (one of whom traditionally always starts up a Karagöz play) were up to as I was furiously following the Write-a-matrix’s demands to finish at least ONE of my manuscripts for publication while I was in seclusion down in Provincetown. The Write-a-matrix, as you may recall, is my internal whip-cracker, who only wants me to do academic writing – not my personal writing that I am getting back to after a hiatus of many years.

The Write-a-matrix does NOT care that I am not feeling well, nor that I am overwhelmed by my job’s demands to the extreme, or by the fact that I sometimes worry I am losing my mind as a result of this job.  She doesn’t care at all.  She is the pure academic writer who wants me to produce IMPORTANT commentary on IMPORTANT topics about the populations who “fall between the cracks” of the U.S. disability services and other systems.  She is true to that personal commitment that I made when I left direct care social work. “Never forget!” she screams, cracking her whip on the table to the left of my keyboard, “Never forget what you saw!” and I hurry back to writing even though I know that not many people will ever read my work and that it probably won’t make much of a difference anyway.

The dull ache in my stomach re-knots itself, a bit tighter this time, resulting in the internal version of a sharp whip crack, and I know that my endometriosis is coming back in full force – it has been a couple of years without this pain.  Perhaps it is my upset at this realization that indeed I’ll need to head for surgery again.  Perhaps spurred on by my response to the pain in my side, I shoot out some angry words her way, saying “Write-a-matrix – damn you – isn’t this really all for naught? And seriously, I took that ‘never forget’ oath before I had family responsibilities and a job like I do now. I mean, seriously, how am I supposed to balance all of this – much less balance this while I am not feeling well? I wish you would leave me alone. I wish everyone would just leave me alone.”  Ignoring my rant, that Write-a-matrix, she just kept cracking the whip – never breaking eye contact with her hypnotic stare.

Somewhat oblivious to all of this, Karagöz sauntered up just about then, full of his usual vim and vigor and oppositional behavior.  He was as drunk as a sailor on land leave for the first time in months. On the way over to visit me (from one end of the table to the other), he pushed the Write-a-matrix off of the desk in the midst of a sloppy dipping curtsy.  Seeing that the Write-a-matrix’s leather whip lay in wait, I wondered how long I had until the puppet battle really began in earnest.

“You see!” Karagöz said, pointing his swooning finger high into the sky above me, “those dancing ladies, they are on a mission (hiccup)- a mission I tell you!”  Turning my head to him at the completion of a sentence in my manuscript I was frantically trying to finish, I looked at him as if to say “make it snappy, I have no time for this.” Taking one sludgy step further, Karagöz smirked at me, saying “and that is just the problem, m’lady, you need to make time for more than this, that is what those little lady puppets are arguing, you need to make time to be a good wife – and a good Turkish wife at that and you know what that (hiccup) means, don’t you?”  Raising my eyebrows to indicate “no” in Turkish body language parlance, I just pursed my lips, tapped my keyboard, and waited for my drunken puppet friend to continue his inevitable rant, thinking “just what is this “Turkish wife” stuff, anyway?”

“Well, it means, you see, that you need to BAKE.” Standing tall with conviction, Karagöz exclaimed “you need to bake some Turkish pastries to show your husband that you love him and that you love his culture – if you are really so serious about cross-cultural life. Look at you, here you are on spring break from the university, slaving away, away from your husband, working at all hours of day and night on your academic papers. That Write-a-matrix be damned, you need to go home to the city and bake something good – and I vote for Peynirli Poğaça (pay-near-lee/ poh-ah-chah).

Pronouncing the ps in the Turkish name of the cheese-filled pastry with the ultimate alliterative allure, Karagöz fell over with the power of his own words. From his splayed-out position, Karagöz continued his rant even further ” in case your less-than-rudimentary Turkish fails you (and you NEED to get to studying that m’lady, now that you have tenure) – that means those feta and herb-filled savory buns that C. Teyze always serves when you come for tea.”  The pain in my stomach twisted a bit tighter, joining the mental pain of my guilt about all of the above.

Sighing at the tawdriness of Karagöz’s raw emotion oozing out as a result of being three-sheets-to-the-wind drunk, I heard the grumblings of a truly enraged Write-a-matrix as she climbed up the table leg, refusing to leave her job unfinished. I did feel guilty about being away from home and M. It is made somewhat easier by the fact that M. is fine with this – eating his organic chili from a can that he heats on the stove – something he cannot do when I am around. You can read more about that here – see the photo at the end of the article. Soon, Karagöz was dodging the Write-a-Matrix’s whip and the two were locked in mortal combat – yet another puppet battle in my life.

As the melee ensued, I thought about M., who was happy at home with his canned chili.  I thought about how he was 200% supportive of my academic career – although he does often say he wishes I was not so tired and overwhelmed by it.  I thought about how he was fine with me being away – as a couple married later in life – this has never been an issue for either of us.  And then I thought about my new e-friend Rosamond.  Raised in England, she is married to a man with Pakistani origins – and moved by the spirit, she converted to Islam when she married him. We have e-met and bonded recently through this blog – and I am ever grateful for her support and insightful comments.

I thought about all of her delicious-looking cooking posted on her blog entitled Food Glorious Food from Rosamond’s Kitchen.  I thought about my stepmom’s good advice about sometimes the best balm to heal an argument rift in a relationship is a good, home-cooked meal.  I thought about how nice it is to sit across from M. and have dinner together at the dining table.  I thought “I need to go home, and try out some of Rosamond’s recipes.”  The endometriosis-infused twinges in my stomach still continued, but the mental ones eased up a bit.  Taking the bull by the horns, I began to pack my bags for the trip home.

As I prepared for the trip, I just put Karagöz and the Write-a-matrix on mute and instead, I thought about Rosamond.  In truth, I feel as though this trail-blazer in the cross-cultural marriage club (40 years of marriage and counting) is in my corner – she has given me great advice and she inspires me about not letting anything get in the way of loving my M.  This is the best of what the blogosphere has to offer, this kind of e-camaraderie.  In any case, Rosamond popped into my mind for a reason – and Karagöz knew this – in addition to being the fabulous woman and wife she is, she has embraced the joys of cooking dishes from around the world – and hosts an interesting blog that is the very epitome of the best that globalization in situ has to offer.

Several weeks ago, Rosamond shared her recipe for peynirli poğaça – but she often has treats from many origins – from Polish cheesecake in honor of her father’s roots, shami kebabs from Pakistani or English almond pastry mince pies and beyond. I am grateful to her for these English-language recipes – and for the fact that she puts out recipes that she herself has tested! Please check out her blog for some no-nonsense, clear and super-yummy recipes!  So, while I am in process on balancing my personal life and my professional one, I think I might just have time to try Rosamond’s recipe! I’ll report back on that – but for now – check out this Turkish guy making peynirli poğaça with his kids!

Rosamond’s recipe for Peynirli Poğaça

There are many different types and shapes of this popular bread,bun or pastry as its called.This is very popular in Turkey for breakfast but it can be seved any time of the day. When my husband and i had our holiday home in turkey my neighbour used to send them round to us some mornings. I liked them so much i translated her recipie which i have included in my book.


  • 237ml   whole milk
  • 2 eggs, whites and yolks separated
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 4 tbsps granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt 800g plain flour
  • 2 tsps dry yeast
  • Cheese filling:
  • 225g     feta cheese crumbled
  • 4 tbsps  finely chopped parsley
  • For decoration: 3tsp  black sesame seeds


  • 1 Add 2 tbsps of sugar in milk and stir to combine. Heat the milk in microwave for a minute or so. 2 Sprinkle dry yeast over milk and put the bowl in a warm place for 30 minutes. I usually leave it in microwave.
  • 3 After it has risen add 2 egg whites, the remaining sugar (2 tablespoons), oil, salt and gradually add flour while you are kneading the dough.
  • 4 Knead it until combined. Leave dough in a warm place to rise. It usually takes an hour to double in size.
  • 5 When it rises, take some dough the size of a golf ball and make it flat and round in your palm. 6 Put 1tsp cheese filling in it and close the edges of dough and make sure they stick to each other, it must look like letter “D”.
  • 7 Prepare an egg wash with 2 egg yolks and brush one side of each “pogoca” and sprinkle some black sesame seeds.
  • 8 Place them egg washed side up onto the greased baking tray/grease proofed sheets and pop them into the 180 C pre-heated oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. 9 Serve warm with tea or any drink you like

Oven Temperature: 350f/180 C/Gas 4/5

Recipe Tips · You could also use 8oz cooked mince, salt and pepper, spices according to your taste instead of feta cheese.

This entry was posted in A Karagöz puppet battle, Academic hell, Turkish Food!, Visits from the Karagöz puppets and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Peynirli Poğaça: Karagöz urges me to get baking and forget academia

  1. Carol says:

    Thanks I have copied the recipe and thanks for the blogs I really enjoy the clever way you write

  2. Hi Carol,

    Thanks so much for your kind words! My head is expanding at being called a “clever” writer – thank you! I hope the pogaca come out well someday!


  3. eremophila says:

    Wonderfully entertaining writing, with a great underlying message!

  4. Hi eremophila,

    Thank you so much for visiting Slowly-by-slowly – and for your kind comments! They are much appreciated. As a fellow canine lover, I loved looking at your photos! The animated set involving disappearing into that tree trunk are priceless! Our fox hound-mutt Milou is certainly going to follow you now!



  5. Rosamond says:

    Wow liz such a wonderfull impression you give of me, i am really moved. I love your blog and your puppets and you remind me of a cleverer version of my self when i was young lol.
    Most people dont realise how marrying into a different culture is not the easiest thing to do and many people cant survive it. After 46 years of a sucessfull and happy marriage with 2 well adjusted daughters and many muslim/asian foster children, perhaps i can be of some help to another young blossoming relationship that might be bashed from time to time in a cultural/bigoted storm. :-/
    I would just like to add that i am too strong a person to change my religion to suit even a man i loved. It was 5 years after i married that i converted and it was never forced upon me, unlike so many cases you hear about.

  6. Alan says:

    finding kindred spirits has been a great bonus of this blogging lark – long may the threads continue and strengthen ;-D

  7. sumanyav says:

    I enjoyed reading this one, Liz! I believe Karagoz and Write-a-matrix have been visiting me as well…..and it is when Karagoz wins the argument that I sit reading your posts instead of working which is what I should be doing!

    And great to read about your cross-cultural marriage friend. I am off to check out her food blog cause I could do with something to eat right about now.

    Oh and is the Turkish word for cheese, ‘Peynir’?

  8. carinaragno says:

    mmmm that recipe is getting tested this weekend, thank you 🙂

  9. Sorry for the late reply – will love to hear how the recipe works when you try it!

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