Kenne, the puppet known as the queen of manners and maintenance of ladylike behavior puppet, tells me not to curse, it is not ladylike. If that is truly the case, then my gender is in serious hot water, so to speak.
In any case, there I was, sitting at my desk preparing to teach my classes this “spring” semester, I start to get cold, really cold, frozen, really, and nothing to do with the movie of the same name. And as I pile on another blanket, that’s when Mercan Bey, my inner gourmand puppet, tells me that what I really need is peynir helvası. That’s “pay-near – helvah-suh” to the uninitiated.
Mercan Bey reminds me that in all of his travels near and far, this unctuous and sweet treat is an artery clogger to be sure. As my Dad used to say, there are two kinds of really good food – “instant artery clogger” and “instant cavity.”
Peynir helvası. There’s no way to translate this into an English name that makes sense directly, but it literally means cheese helva. And when I say helva, I’m not talking about that (delicious) tahini – based powdery and sticky helva with dots of pistachio that one cuts into slabs and licks off of your fingers – I’m talking about a thick-grained, fat cake-like pastry. This is a solid pastry that would stick to your ribs and prepare you for a walk in this frigid air. It is as golden-yellow-orange as lemony marigolds, or fresh egg yolks – colors that evoke WARMTH on this shivery night.
The only place I know that sells this delicious sweet is in the Dardanelles…in Eceabat (just to the left of the ferry terminal that takes you from the Gallipoli peninsula over to Çanakkale). You can also find peynir helvası on the side streets to the right of the ferry landing in Çanakkale. Sadly, we are thousands of miles away.