During the winter many more preserved foods are eaten, especially dishes prepared from winter kavurma (meat cooked and preserved in its own fat).
Morning: One difference from summer breakfasts is that in winter, breakfast will always include pekmez (grape molasses) and tahini. Sometimes eggs with pestil, a sort of fruit leather made of white mulberries, are prepared, and dried peppers are fried in oil.
Noon: Among the indispensable winter dishes are hot soups: tarhana, hand-cut noodle, lovik (a bean similar to pinto beans but smaller), lentil and others. Other dishes include white beans, bulgur pilaf, fidoşmade with eggplant or potatoes according to the season, and spinach.
Evening: The evening meal consists of the same dishes as the noon meal. After the meal, compote made from dried fruits is served.
Folk beliefs are a powerful force in the shaping of societies, and people reflect their ideas about what is acceptable or unacceptable, good or bad, in their beliefs. A look at the food-related beliefs listed here reveals that they emphasize ideas such as the avoidance of waste, keeping one’s word, cleanliness, making use of leftovers, faith, and good qualities.
Professional Cooks in the Region
Occasions involving crowds like weddings, festivals and funerals require cooperation between people. For such occasions, people in the area who are good cooks are called. There are people who open the börek dough for neighbors in preparation for the feast after Ramadan, or make food for weddings for money. In Harput there are two women, Emine Abla and Ayşe Teyze, who are considered masters of making stuffed köfte and börek.
Fruits Raised in the Region and Their Preservation
The fruits most raised in the Elazığ region include grapes, mulberries, apples, apricots and strawberries. The best and most fragrant strawberries come from Kuyulu, and the best grapes for eating and winemaking from the vineyards of the village of Güney.
There are many different grape varieties; eleven in all including Boğazkere (a true wine grape, black), öküz gözü (hazelnut-sized, black and quite sweet), şintil üzümü (the same size as öküz gözü, juice and a bit tart), tenhebi, siyah ağmıker, geçemcek, siyah kurutma (black drying), kırmızı (red), şirfoni, beyaz üzüm (white grape)and kokulu üzüm (fragrant grape).
Grapes are put in large deep baskets and stacked in a cool place for storage. The grapes that can be stored are the white and red varieties; the others have short lives. Red grapes are also stored by hanging them on the ceiling. Black grapes are used in making grape molasses (pekmez), and are dried for winter consumption. White grapes are used for making pestil (mulberry leather) and orcik.
There are three types of mulberries: karadut (Morus rubra, red mulberry), çekirdekli dut (with seeds, also known as pirinci, or rice-like), and çekirdeksiz (seedless, also known as halıt beyi). The seedless, a white variety, is used for making pekmez as well as dried and stored in a dry place in earthenware vessels. Some of the mulberries are used in winter, sometimes pounded into a paste with walnuts or almonds on a stone and stored that way. The çekirdekli mulberries are not eaten; they are used for making pekmez and for animal feed.
Special Occasion Dishes
The three most important occasions in a person’s life are birth, marriage and death. Here is a list of special dishes made and served in the Elazığ region on these and other special occasions:
Births: Special dishes are prepared for women who have newly given birth and who are nursing. Women who have recently given birth are given eggs with pestil (mulberry leather), eggs with grape molasses, simmered meat and potatoes, as well as sweetened milk. In some places the mother rests in bed for a few weeks and in the first days is given a dish called haside (hesüde) (Taşkın 1997:16). Those coming to visit her are usually served a sweet drink called lohusa şerbeti, made from sugar colored brilliant red with cochineal and flavored with cinnamon.
Feast for young men going into the military: In Elazığ as in other areas, it is traditional for relatives or neighbors to make a special meal for young men going into the army. Everyone voluntarily brings whatever they can, according to their means.
Wedding and circumcisions: For weddings and circumcision celebrations, food is prepared in large kettles. Dishes may include kavurma, pilaf, dolma, su böreği (a börek made of layers of pasta dough which are first boiled, then stacked with cheese and baked), etc. Circumcision celebrations usually include a singing of the mevlit, a famous poetic account of the life of the Prophet. First the mevlit is chanted, and then lahmacun (a pizza-like pastry) and ayran are distributed. In village homes, it is more common to serve pilaf, kavurma, dolma and ayran.
Bayram meals: Bayram is the common word for the feast at the end of Ramadan, and the Feast of the Sacrifice. They are perhaps the most important days for the Turkish people, where people remember the old days, savor friendships and love, forget their troubles and are of one accord. Children get new clothes which they prepare the night before, then go to bed early, thinking of the next morning, when they will go door to door collecting candy from the neighbors. One of the old unforgettable traditions is to give the children money and candy wrapped in decorated handkerchiefs.
The women begin preparing for Bayram several days ahead, making sweets (dolanger, baklava, kadayıf and zerde), savory dishes (stuffed köfte, sarma, dolma, tirit) and su böreği. When Bayram arrives, guests are treated without fail to candy, coffee and sweet pastries, as if to say “may even our worst days be as sweet as this.”
The foods prepared for the Feast of the Sacrifice (Kurban Bayramı) are mostly from the meat of the animal sacrificed: kavurma, fried meat, liver yahni, güveç, stuffed intestines, head, etc.
Meals for returning pilgrims: When a Haci (Hajji) returns home from the pilgrimage to Mecca, he/she is given dates from Mecca and fragrant oils (Sunguroğlu, 1968:113). Whose who visit the home of the returning pilgrim bring food. The most common dishes are lahmacun, pilaf, ayran, sarma, kavurma, baklava, börek etc.
The meal served during the rain prayer: Children make a doll or scarecrow out of cloth and go from house to house, repeating the rhyme, “Cici ana ne ister, Allah’tan yağmur ister” (What does the dear mother want, she wants rain from Allah). At each house they receive food (butter, bulgur, rice etc.) which they gather and then cook outside. Later, they pour a bowl of water onto the effigy they have made (Aydoğmuş 1992:50). In some areas the effigy is known as cici ana (dear mother), molla potik (mullah Potik), çömçe gelin (clay bride).
Foods served following a death: When a family member dies, the family does not cook food for three days. Those who go to visit the home of the deceased make everything from salad to soup and bring it in several pots. The foods might include bulgur pilaf, rice pilaf, soup, chicken, beans, kavurma, stuffed vine leaves, dolma, lahmacun, ayran, cola, compote, and other foods and drinks.
Later, special gatherings are held on the seventh, fortieth and fifty-second day anniversary of the death. On the seventh, the family makes halvah and takes it to the neighbors. On the fortieth day, they have the Koran chanted and serve a meal. On the fifty-second day, there is no food served, the Koran is chanted at the grave of the deceased and alms are given to the poor.
Regional Dishes of Elazığ
From the standpoint of different dishes, the cuisine of Elazığ is quite varied. Here is a list of some of them, divided into seven groups. [Translator’s note: Many of these dishes, some of which are known throughout Turkey and others of which are strictly local, have no direct English translation. As many of the recipes for them are given in the next section and are found in other articles as well, I have only translated those with directly translatable names, such as “Bulgur çorbası” – “Bulgur soup,” and those where the author provides an explanation. Turkish food classifications are slightly different than those in the west, for example the different types of desserts; köfte which is sometimes translated as “meatballs” but includes many meatless varieties as well; and the “hamur işleri” category which includes any dish based on dough, from börek to noodles. Note also that most “vegetable dishes” include meat as well.]
Information on informants:
(Last name, first name, age, birthplace, who they learned from, education, profession.)
Aydoğmuş (1992), Günerkan, Ak Topraklar Üzerinde Bir İlçe Ağın, Ankara.
Bulut, Ahmet (2001), Elazığ/Harput Yöresel Yemekleri, Elazığ.
Sunguroğlu (1968), İshak, Harput Yollarında, İstanbul.
Taşkın (1997), Abdullah, Kuyulu Köyü (Elazığ) Monografyası, Elazığ, (Fırat Üniversitesi, Fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi, Sosyoloji Bölümü Lisans Tezi).
Yalçınkaya (1987), Güliz, Elazığ Yöresi ve Yemekleri, Elazığ, (F.Ü, Fen-Edebiyat Fakültesi, Türk Dili ve Edebiyatı Bölümü, Lisans Tezi).
* Research Faculty, Fırat University College of Sciences and Literature, Turkish Language and Literature Department.