It’s time for a little more food history from our guest blogger, Inka Piegasa-Quischotte. As I’ve mentioned before, Inka live half the year in the U.S. and the other half in Turkey. She just got a great assignment to cover nightlife and the food scene in Istanbul, so she returned to Turkey early.
This month, Inka shared the history of a Turkish dish called “The Imam fainted.” The rest of this text is a quote from Inka.
A dish with a name like that naturally fires the imagination. Why did the imam faint? Was it because it was so good that he thought he had already gone to heaven? Was it because it was so bad that it gave him indigestion?
Before we lift the mystery let me explain what Imam bayildi or The Imam fainted is.
Appetizers in Turkey are called ‘meze’ and a good Turkish cook worth his olive oil knows at least 20 different kinds.
Imam bayildi is one of them. The starter consists of an eggplant, split open and stuffed with diced tomatoes, onions and garlic and simmered in olive oil. Very slowly and with plenty of olive oil!
The three legends surrounding the name all involve olive oil. The first version tells, that the imam fainted when he found out that his wife had used an entire bottle of the best – and very expensive – olive oil to prepare the dish.
The second version says that the imam fainted in pure rapture when he tasted the dish for the first time.
The third legend is my personal favorite: the imam married the daughter of a rich oil merchant. Part of her dowry were several bottles of the best olive oil. She prepared the stuffed eggplant for the first time and the imam liked it so much that he insisted she make it on a daily basis. After about two week, she ran out of olive oil and that’s when the imam fainted in dismay.
Which ever version you want to believe, when ordering Imam bayildi, don’t faint, enjoy the food and don’t even think about calories!
Thanks so much Inka. I think our fans enjoy your history lessons as much as Brenda and I do.
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