A few days ago, my dear friend J. took me (and my mental Karagöz puppets) over for my twice-weekly physical therapy torture for what Emsa ths hippie puppet calls “my damaged wing,” and the very proper Kenne, Queen of Manners Puppet calls “my rotator cuff.”
By the way, this voice recognition software hears “Karagöz: as “Cairo guys,” and while I thought that the software was off, Hacivad Bey, the Sufi elder puppet, reminded me that Cairo was indeed part of the Ottoman empire from which these puppets come – so I guess the software is more intelligent than I could have realized.
But in any case, there we were, me and the “Cairo guys” puppets, doing all sorts of gentle stretches and weight lifting at the rehabılıtatıon center. And while the “Cairo guys” were curious about the medicine balls, yoga twists and silent war Veterans with tears in their eyes at the pain of their exercises, they were most interested in the conversation that I had with the woman that is my physical therapist.
She is a young American woman, who is really lovely and smart. As I went through my repetitions of weight lifting, we started to talk about my husband as well as her wife, and we started to talk about Thanksgiving traditions. She is cooking her first Thanksgiving this year I think she is newly married and nervous about cooking the turkey for the family first time. And I can relate to that very much.
At this point, one of the “Cairo guys” said “Why is she nervous – do they think Turkey is going to invade United States of America? And of course, I said no, “Cairo guys”they’re talking about the bird, “not the big yellow one,” I explained reminding the puppets about the Robama debate, “the one you roast. And as all of this was going on in my head, the physical therapist turned her head ever so slightly as she asked the question I get at least once per Thanksgiving season:
So, how do people in Turkey celebrate Thanksgiving?”
Drum roll please. Silence. I didn’t expect that from someone so smart and nice. Here’s how the puppets reacted in the moment:
Karagöz himself swirled and jumped while squealing with laughter and said “another dumb American!”
Esma the hippie puppet, well, she just sighed, putting her hand on my shoulder, and said “this is just one of those moments were going to have to kindly explain to someone that they said something really stupid.”
Kenne the Queen of Manners and Maintenance of Ladylike Behavior agreed with that.
Safiye Rakkase, the vainglorious dancing girl puppet was too busy dancing to the music in the boombox there in the physical therapy room to pay attention.
Yehuda Rebbe, the wise Jewish elder puppet looked down put his hands on his religious book and begin to pray.
So, left to my own devices as the puppets waited and watched, I very gently told her that “well, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in Turkey as it is an American tradition,” with a hopefully kind smile on my face of course. As she blushed, I ransacked my mental pantry in order to fill the gaffe gap, and told her quickly about all of the Turkish flavor traditions we have woven into our American Thanksgiving. And this is something that many immigrants or immigrant-infused families do, tabı canım.
For us, our “Turklish” approach to the holiday usually involves a bit of sun-dried kekik (thyme) in the stuffing, or pul biber (red Aleppo pepper) rubbed into the butter that goes on the bird, but this year, it was the addition of visne recelı (sour cherry jam), in thumbprint cookies. These ones have coconut on them – and M. says they would be more “Turklish” if it were nuts, but for this year, it’s a blend, just like every other day of our life!
And before I get to that Turklishified recipe, please check out the fascinating blog from which this (new to me) word has sprung – TURKLISH!!!
Ina Garten’s Thumbprint Jam Cookies – alla Turca
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut (or nuts, crushed)
Raspberry and/or apricot jam (I used visne receli)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger. Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.