The Special Day Meals of Bursa Cuisine
The culinary culture of Bursa is not geared only towards feeding people but also to shape the lives and special days of the people. Nowadays the typical celebrations such as weddings and circumsicion ceremonies are uaually catered events. However in the old days, all the ladies of the household and neighbours got together, cooked and prepared excuisite feast tables.
The month of Ramadan and Candy Holiday
Before the arrival of Ramadan, the preparations started for foods that will be consumed during iftar – the fast breaking time- and sahur – the last meal eaten before the sun went up. These preparations included non-perishable foodstuffs such as delicious jams, homemade noodles, couscous and yufka (dried flat dough) that can be kept for a long time. Yufka was used to make a desserts or cheese filled pastries. Also for the sahur period, various dough based dishes, rice and fruit compotes were made. At the iftar hour, on the dinner table, there would be a variety of simits (bread topped with sesames), pastries, jams, caviar obtained from the carp fish of Lake İznik. A variety of cheese, olives, wedding soup, stuffed eggs, vegetable and meat dishes and stuffed vegetables were also eaten. As for desserts there would be many different types of desserts laid out on the table.
On the first day of the holiday after the morning prayers, there would be an elaborate dining table that had so many different kinds of dishes. These dishes would be offered to all the guests that would come for a visit during the holiday period.
The Sacrifice Holiday
One day before the sacrifice holiday, an animal was sacrificed in the memory of the dead family members and distributed among neighbours. On the holiday morning, after the morning prayers the men of the household would sacrifice another animal and the first meal would be made from the animal’s liver. The meat is usually grilled, baklava and some other types of dough based desserts were eaten for dessert, and it would be offered to all the guests.
The typcial thing to serve was a dough-based dessert called “lokma” and helva. If there was anyone fasting there would be a special iftar meal prepared for them.
Day of Ashura (Aşure)
The households that sacrifice an animal, usually made the aşure dessert with seven ingredients and distributed it to seven different houses. Especially towards the end of the cooking process before taking the dessert off the heat, there would be prayers made and the dessert was distributed to neighbours while it was still hot.
Islamic Memorial Service
These types of memorial services are held for different reasons and the offerings depended on the economic level of the family that was holding these services. The most common dishes offered were rice pilaf with chicken or sauteed lamb, cantık - a baked savoury pastry topped with ground beef-, yoghurt drink, a special candy, helva and sherbets.
Those that visit the woman who had just given birth would bring presents as well as various dishes that would help increase the new mother’s breast milk. Just like the typical Turkish custom, the guests would be offered a special sherbet called “lohusa sherbet” that is made for these occasions.
The Ceremony that Celebrates the Baby’s First Theeth
When the baby’s first teeth comes out, the typical dish that is served is boiled wheat that is mixed with sugar.
In Bursa culture, there would be no cooking for seven days at the deceased person’s house. Those who come to pay their condolences to the family would bring food with them and usually eat this food together. In these types of situations the dining table is always set and there would be offerings to everyone who comes for a visit. On the seventh day of the death, there would be an Islamic memorial service. If this servcie was taken place at the household, the guests would be offered rice pilaf with meat, cantık with ground beef and helva. If the service was held at the mosque, then candy would be distributed to the attendees of the service.