On Failed Omelettes
Text by Naz Sahin
Photography by Serifcan Ozcan
I belong to a group of contemporaries who think highly of their grandparents. Unlike us kids, they bear a charm that enables them to manage their lives in an uncanny manner. All grown up and feeling on top of the world, we still idolize their formulas and creations, which have shaped our palates. My grandmother, Inci, is a gifted woman and she does what she knows better than anyone else.
Inci’s empirical understanding of the private world that surrounds her owes itself to the wisdom of day-to-day routine and tradition. For the most part, this marvel is best conveyed through her cooking. She can hear the bubbles in a pot of boiling stock from the next room. Who never uses a scale, yet instinctively adjusts the flour-to-water ratio of flaky, delicate pastries. Who does not know what vinaigrette means, yet never fails to put out perfectly seasoned bowls of greens. Who has one cookbook that has been with her through the ages. Who is always so composed and punctual, never in doubt or showing the slightest hesitation, offering one plate after another to admiring guests. Beautiful plates, on which tasty morsels are casually arranged within principles of white space, contrast and asymmetry; concepts she has never heard of. All Inci needs is common sense, patience and no-frills perfectionism.
One summer morning, after hearing my plans to abandon my career, attend culinary school and spend the rest of my life in kitchens, Inci stared at me over a plate of fresh cheese, and asked, “Why would you want to do this to yourself?” I mumbled, at a loss about the fact that she was questioning my willingness to build upon my profound interest in her forte. To her, cooking was an inevitable tool to nourish and delight loved ones, a sincere and straightforward act carried out in the kitchen. The idea that her granddaughter would choose to embark on a journey through the brutal, grubby world of restaurant kitchens to feed strangers was confusing. She took the the decision as “a nice break from work.”
Read more in N˚3: Fight.