fig & olive tapenade and a side of irony

Sometimes, there will be days that can only be survived through indulging in every form of carbohydrate imaginable. Today has been one such day.

It hasn’t been bad, mind you — no more barely-contained emotional breakdowns looming like storm clouds at the moment — but I’ve definitely taken solace in the serotonin that has accompanied my gluttonous gastronomic scrounging (evidenced by the fact that I’m currently lying at a diagonal on my bed, laptop on the floor and upper body slumped over the side of the mattress to ensure that my entire self is in direct line of the fan’s trajectory).

It has, however, been a bit stressful, seeing as how today marked the first of three days of language assessment. Today was also the more significant of the three, as it will result in my score for US language assessment purposes. I spent my four hours of free time after going to the cinema and watching a dubbed version of Wolverine which, by the way, I highly do not recommend class alternating between reading very important news articles about Turkish current events in a hasty, half-arsed attempt to seem globally aware just in case I needed to be and eating my bodyweight in lahmacun and dondurma. And then a second lahmacun. And also cookies at some point.


But it was quite necessary, seeing as how today’s exam consisted of a 35-minute phone interview, conducted solely in Turkish, gauging my ability to be a functioning member of society in the Turkish language world.

Thirty-five minutes of linguistic ego breakdown is what it should have been called.

And not a single question about the Syrian refugee crisis. I nearly went blind from reading off my iPhone screen in a Starbucks for nothing.

But the cruel irony of this entire situation?

My proctor asked me to relay a recipe in Turkish.

It is a deep, deep shame I didn’t have Google Translate and a certain blog entry at my disposal a few hours earlier.

There may have been tears mixed in with the incredulous laughter that followed.


Stupidly absurd as it was, though, this post is being written primarily on behalf of M Bey, as he requested a copy of this recipe from last night’s dinner. I’m sure he will also get a huge kick out of my language failure from aforementioned hellish torture.

(Plus, it’s not like I know the verb for “to chop” any better now than I did then. Which is not at all.)

Our dinner menu this week consisted of cinnamon-coated lamb chops topped with a parsley-mint-thyme chimichurri sauce, served with a salad of strawberry, almond, and fresh greens, and a side of mashed potatoes and sautéed mushrooms and onions. A fig and olive tapenade over a smearing of tangy beyaz penir on toasted bread to start, and an improved version of M Bey’s carrot-walnut cake to finish off the night.

(And while eating through cake #2 on the balcony yesterday, tummies stuffed to the brim with yet another of the most amazing meals we’d shared in our 8 weeks here, we profoundly lamented not having made this ordeal a weekly ritual from the start.)

Though M Bey spent the five hours preceding the actual meal battling an internal panic attack from the possibility of another farklı dish and getting his arse kicked in tavla (by me, of course), we were just as surprised as he when he fell head over heels in love with the tapenade.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it as well, seeing as how the sheer thought of olives is usually enough to make me borderline homicidal. (The one thing Italy could not cure me of was my profound hatred of olives.)

But if even was going back for seconds, this has to be a pretty good dish.

And, you know, perhaps I’ll even try olives with breakfast tomorrow.


Fig & Olive Tapenade (recipe in a poor attempt at Turkish follows)
Adapted from Food52
Serves 4 as an appetizer


  • 4 oz dried figs (5-6 dried figs)
  • 1/2 cup black olives of choice, pitted
  • 1/2 cup green olives of choice, pitted
  • handful fresh thyme, minced
  • handful fresh rosemary, minced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp pomegranate syrup


Chop olives and fig finely, or pulse a few times in a food processor. Add herbs, olive oil, and pomegranate syrup and mix (or process). Refrigerate until serving.

Serve with fresh, lightly toasted bread, and a side of goat or feta cheese.


İncir ve Zeytin Yayılması (“Tapenade”)
Kaynakça: Food52
Porsiyon: 4 kişilik, bir meze olarak


  • 100 gr. kuru incir
  • 100 gr. yeşil zeytin
  • 100 gr. siyah zeytin
  • avuç kekik, kıyılmış
  • avuç biberiye, kıyılmış
  • 2 çorba kaşığı zeytinyağı
  • 1 çorba kaşığı nar ekşisi


Kuru incir, yeşil zeytin ve siyah zeytini doğrayın, veya kıymak için mutfak robotu kullanın. Kekik, biberiye, zeytinyağı ve nar ekşisini ekleyin ve karıştırın. Yemek kadar buzdolabında koyun.

Ekmek ve beyaz peynir ile servis edin.

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