Methods of Preserving Food
Methods of preserving food changes seasonally. In the summer months, the methods used are different based on different types of foodstuff. In order to keep food, clay pots, earthenware jugs, tinned copper pots, cloth bags, glass jars and plastic bins are used. Baskets made out of willow tree twigs are used to keep dried fruits and vegetables.
Usually food that was preserved for the winter was kept in storage spaces, cellars or refrigerators. The wheat, barley and legumes harvested would be kept in undergound storage spaces found in houses. Cheese, fried butter, honey are kept in eathenware pots or jugs, glass jars or plastic bins in a cool and dry place.
Winter preparations that varies from region to region usually start in spring or summer and continues until summer in the traditional Yalvaç cuisine. Although the smell and taste of fruits and vegetables grown in the region is delicious, their smell becomes concentrated once they are dried.
Fruits and vegetables can be dried, pickled, brined, cooked into jams and marmalades as a winter preparation. Also foods such as various breads, phyllo doughs, cheese kept in jugs are categorized based on their characteristics and stored accordingly.
In the summer months, the most important preparation is the making of tomato and pepper pastes. These pastes are placed in glass jars or plastic bins and stored in a cool place. Warmer autumn months are usually the times to prepare “pastırma” the air dried salt cured beef.
Meals prepared for Special Days
In Yalvaç region, there are different types of dishes made for different types of special occasions – weddings, circumcision ceremonies, arrival of spring, births – that carries special meanings. These dishes are usually cooked on the day of the happy occasion. The most popular dishes cooked are usually wheat based dishes and regional desserts.
In engagements and weddings, in order to satisfy the palette, various dough based dishes, deserts and whole chicken is prepared and sent to the grooms house. During the holidays, the newly married couples visit the bride’s family’s household. When it is time to eat the walnut baklava and “su böreği” (baked savoury pastry with cheese filling), the trays are placed in front of the groom first. He takes the first bite then the rest is distributed among the other family members.
Every year, on the 6th day of May, just like in all the other towns, there are festivals held to celebrate the arrival of spring. On the first day of these celebrations, a wheat dish is cooked which resembles the dish that is made when a child’s first teeth comes out. The only difference being the purposes and the pots used for cooking.
The dish that is made to celebrate the baby’s first teeth is made from grains or legumes like wheat, chickpeas and white kidney beans that is found in the home, to symbolize for the child to have white and healthy teeth. This dish would be offered to all the family members and neighbours who come for a visit. The wheat dish made to celebrate the arrival of spring is cooked in large copper pots, made from wheat collected from all the neighbours. This dish is made with the belief that it will bring prosperity and abundance, and it gets distributed to all the neighbours and guests.
Guests who come to visit a new born baby and the new mother are offered a special sherbet called “loğuga serbeti” that is specifically made for this occasion. Special meals are also prepared in order help increase the new mother’s breast milk.
The period that is known as the “sacred three months” continues until the last day of Ramadan. On this day, it is customary to make fried dough to commemorate the ones that has passed away and distribute to close relatives and neighbours. The month of “Muharrem” that is also known as the “month of Aşure” (Aşure is a type of pudding made with dried fruits, nuts and legumes) is celebrated by cooking aşure with the ingredients found in the homes and distributing it to relatives and neighbours.
Yöresel Yalvaç Yemekleri, Yalvaç Belediyesi Kültür Yayını, 2011