Saturday, May 17, 2008

Pide Man.


I
don't know his name....forgot to ask but no matter his name. What is more important is that this quiet, unassuming man made THE BEST bread that we ate on our entire trip through both Turkey and Croatia.

We encountered the Pide ("pee-day") Man and his marvelous bread at a restaurant in Selçuk. The waiter told us that this particular restaurant serves a special bread, ordinarily eaten during Ramadan, all year round. After I got home, I did a bit of research and learned that the bread is called Ramadan Pide (Ramazan Pidesi in Turkish) and it's eaten when the daily fast is broken at sunset. It tastes like a "lighter" and slightly chewier version of focaccia and it was the perfect accompaniment to the sheep brain and tongue soup that I had also fallen in love with.

Lei and I had just settled into our seats at the table and I spotted the Pide Man - making bread in a small open area at the back of the restaurant. I couldn't resist going back to watch him work his magic.

The beautiful balls of soft dough were rising in a small wooden trough lined with cotton cloth.












Pide Man carefully pressed each ball down to a circular piece of dough about 8 inches in diameter. He then gently dimpled the surface and using his fingers, coated the surface of each bread with olive oil. At one point, he asked me if I wanted to give it a try. Of course I did!! I quickly washed and dried my hands and following his gestures, made one round of bread. After he had flattened and oiled several rounds of dough, he then lightly sprinkled a mixture of sesame and cumin seeds over each round. I did the same on my piece.















In turn, each piece of dough was placed on the peel and placed inside the wood burning oven. I decided not to do the peel thing, opting instead to watch from the sidelines. The oven was so hot that it took just a few minutes for the bread to get brown.

I didn't wait for the bread to bake, opting instead to follow the waiter who took me to the soup station so I could see how my brain and tongue soup and Lei's mushroom soup were being prepared. I then return to our table and enjoy my meal - soup and to-die-for bread. A simple, yet satisfying and memorable meal. If you want to try your hand at making Ramadan Pide, here's a recipe I found on the web.