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Spicy Turkish Okra

Experience a culinary adventure with food and travel journalist, Robyn Eckhardt and husband and photographer David Hagerman introduce us to the cuisine and people of Turkey.

Cookbook Review: ISTANBUL & BEYOND, Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey

Author: Robyn Eckhardt

Istanbul & Beyond Book Cover

Robyn shares authentic recipes she has collected while visiting with the local chefs and home cooks then adds her touch to help with sourcing/substituting so we can replicate their spirit in our own kitchens. I especially enjoyed her food tour of Istanbul through the Workers’ Canteens, Street Fare & A Multiethnic Past collection of city food choices. Anyone with roots that trace to Turkey will especially appreciate this outstanding book, and those who long to visit will find themselves even more inspired to plan their trip.

Photographer David Hagerman temps us to go deep, search out the borderlands that touch Greece and Bulgaria to the West, to explore the four different seashores, and discover the varied landscapes that touch Syria, Iraq, Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia.

As the scenery changes across Turkey so do the foods and their preparation. Not surprising considering the many cultural influences, yet for a country slightly larger than Texas, it’s actually quite fascinating.

Globe image of Turkey

As I was guided on this tour, I found myself thinking of the constant availability of such similar and frankly boring packaged food that many people consume daily across America without thinking about it at all – where it comes from, who touched it, how it’s made, or what’s in it.

Imagine living where feeding your family is dependent on your personal effort. I am frankly overwhelmed by the thought of making enough noodles to last through the winter—a process that involves family and friends to do the dough, crank out 6-foot linguine style noodles, dry on a clothesline, wrap in cloths, and then take to the local baker to be toasted.

Meatballs with pumpkin and spice butter (c) David Hagerman

Recipes as simple as Brown Butter Scrambled Eggs where flour is browned in butter before adding the eggs, to the steps involved in making an herbed cheese, or Minty Green Bean Pickles are included.

Mint is often seen in the recipes as is the heat from chiles, and there are surprises as well. Simply reading the chapter titles will catch your interest: Fish, Corn & Greens, Urfa Peppers & Silk Road Spices, or Olives, Pomegranates & Chiles. Right? I’m certain you will enjoy every page.

Fingerprint flatbread (c) David Hagerman

I recently heard Robyn refer to her book as “a little bit of a love letter to Turkey.” How lovely to bring almost 20 years of vacations and traveling by car across this country with her husband and photographer, David, to visit with the Turkish people and learning about their food and lives.

Hear Robyn’s story on Facebook and watch her make the Cabbage Rolls and Fingerprint Bread recipes in a special demonstration at Melissa's Produce.

Spicy Okra & Lamb Sauté photo by Dave Hagerman

We invite you to try the recipe for

included in our partner-review of

Exploring the Diverse Cuisines of Turkey

posted by Linda Kissam at


Available where books are sold.

Photos & recipe courtesy of Robyn Eckhardt

Spicy Okra & Lamb Sauté excerpted from ISTANBUL & BEYOND © 2017 by Robyn Eckhardt Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: The authors were given a copy of the book to review. This is a normal practice in the book review industry. In no way did receiving the book free influence our review.

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