Monday, August 31, 2009

Snow Sale

Lest any of you think that all I ever do is bitch and complain talk about Ramadan, I'll take a break from this obsession theme and pull a little something from the now-isn't-that-interesting vault.

So, in spite of the fact that it's 30-something degrees today (although Larry the Lobster - our accuracy-challenged ceramic lobster with a thermometer in its thorax - claims that's it's 49 °C), I offer you a wintery tale from the village of Eruh, here in Turkey.

Now Eruh is a village in the province of Siirt, in the southeastern part of Turkey. The majority of people living in this area are Arabs and Kurds with a handful of Assyrians tossed in - personally, I thought the Assyrians went the way of all flesh under the Babylonians about 2500 years ago, but shit!, they're still around. Eruh isn't much of a tourist destination since it's rife with Kurdish activists "terrorists"; indeed, asking a Turk about any place in eastern Turkey is tantamount to giving a WWII German soldier his transfer papers to Stalingrad.

But huzzah! in the last two years, "terrorist" activities - my students' favourite tales involve newborn babies and bayonet-wielding terrorists (seriously) -
have calmed down a bit which has allowed the annual summer tradition of snow-selling to resume.

The annual summer tradition of snow-selling? you ask.

Indeedy. It seems that for the villagers from Eruh, summer means scaling the precipitous nei
ghbouring mountains - mules in tow - and collecting the snow which accumulates in the caves there. Packing the snow into sacks, these snow-istas (I don't know what else to call them) and mules make the trek back down down down to sell their wares to anxiously awaiting snow-gourmands in the provincial capital.

The snow is used to make snow cones the colourfully named dish
cellat yemi ("executioner’s meal"), an ice-cream-like dessert made by pouring grape molasses (yes, I know, molasses isn't made from grapes) over a tray of snow, and then mixed with a spoon. Aren't the best dishes simple in design? Why the insides of freezers can't be scraped to make the same dish eludes me ...

In any case, snow from the Çırav mountains generally sells like hotcakes and in last week's haul, the snow sold out in 10 minutes flat. I would add that villagers make this arduous and often treacherous trek into the mountains in order to supplement their meagre incomes - and of course to satisfy their hankering for a nice big helping of "executioner's meal". Of course, at 1 lira a kilo - roughly 75 cents - I'd rather beg. True, I have no pride and absolutely no work ethic to speak of and I really hate the cold.

For your recipe of
"executioner's meal" and other local menu suggestions, email me at:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Can I have the recipe for the condemned prisoner? Do they make that with ice shavings?