london saj borek maker-rolling out dough copy

This morning I walked up to Hoxton Street to buy some fresh herbs from my Turkish shop — they are cheaper and more plentiful than at Waitrose. On the way back, I decided to check the jerk chicken stand on the other side to see if it was any good but it looked too dirty. So, I skipped my craving and continued back home and all of a sudden I fall on a woman rolling out dough for saj boreks in the window of a very modest café, just like you would see in Turkey. Amazing sight in the heart of east London even if there is a large Turkish community there. It was just after 11 am, so, not too far off lunch. I had to try one and fortunately the lovely looking saj maker took a shine to me and gave me a freshly baked one filled with spinach and cheese — she normally makes them ahead of time and reheats them which I am sure is fine but I prefer mine made on the spot. I had never had such a good saj borek outside Turkey, and she is now my most favourite person in the neighbourhood. All I can say to you is go and have some before she leaves! In the meantime, here are a few pictures of her at work together with a couple of video clips. I inadvertently turned off the camera halfway through filming hence the two clips. I really need to learn how to edit!

Read more >



There is an Arabic word that my sisters and I loved using when I lived in Beirut, mulazlazeh meaning plump but with a faintly vulgar connotation. And when I found this Turkish dancer on youtube, I immediately thought “wow, she really is mulazlazeh!”. Perhaps even more than a little more than plump, I would say verging on being fat , at least by today’s standards. I don’t thinks she is such a great dancer but I like her all the same and just the opening sequence of her being unrolled onto the stage made me want to adopt her as my belly dancer of the month. I love how her plump hips shake and how her fixed smile changes into a rather sexy expression as she languidly lifts her hair, almost as if she was daring her male audience to come up and touch her. I know that I would have wanted to grab those hips if I had been there just to feel the wobbly flesh! Her name is Negiz Mogol and the clip is from 1954.



Time for a little lighthearted entertainment and this month I am bringing you Marilyn Monroe as a belly dancer. Well, she is not quite Marilyn Monroe but a Turkish dancer who is trying very hard to look like her. Somehow, I don’t think of Turkey in my search for belly dancers but from what I have seen on youtube, they have pretty good ones. This clip is from 1959 and Sema, the dancer, is great and very pretty but I am rather disturbed by the strip of black tulle (or whatever the fabric is) positioned in the middle of her lower belly. Every now and then, it makes her lovely movements look quite indecent and I think the older man wiping his brow is probably thinking the same! Still, she is a great discovery and I hope you will enjoy her as much as I did.


cevez sujuk-2 copy

I haven’t been very good about posting recently but I have been trying to finish my book and I don’t seem to be able to do two things at the same time! No seriously, finishing a book is quite an obsessive occupation. Still, as I was writing about grape leather, I remembered I had taken a clip of it being prepared in South Eastern Turkey and I thought I would do a post.

Read more >