Gaziantep, Turkey: City of Baklava and Pistachios

It’s not so easy to determine which place can call itself the true inventor of baklava, since it’s existence isn’t well-documented prior to the 19th century. It may come from present-day Iran, Turkey, Syria, Greece, or Armenia, although its popularity certainly spread throughout the Balkans and beyond because of the Ottoman Empire.

Years ago, the European Union (EU) did Turkish cuisine a solid by considering Turkey to be the creator of baklava, placing it on its list of items protected designation of origin, as well as protected geographical indication. However, one joy of eating is to appreciate food without getting caught up in a geopolitical kerfuffle.

Koçak Baklava Gaziantep Turkey
Sampler Platter of Baklava and a Turkish Coffee at Koçak Baklava, Gaziantep, Turkey

Forming part of a hub of Turkish food in southern central Anatolia, if you want to eat like a local, the city of Gaziantep is known for two things– baklava, and pistachios. There’s also baklava’s cousin, katmer, but it’s not nearly as well-known overseas.

Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted my video of Karagöz Caddesi, or what I consider to be Gaziantep’s “baklava street,” but there are plenty of other sweets shops around to reel you in. However, I did prepare a brief baklava tour of the city; given the deliciousness of the country, more videos of Turkish gastronomy will undoubtedly follow!


U Pani Ca Meusa (Sicily, Italy)

Palermo - U Pani Ca Meusa (Italy) 1

Palermo - U Pani Ca Meusa (Italy) 2Given Name: U pani ca meusa
Alias:  Panino con la milza, pani câ meusa, Sicilian spleen sandwich
Place(s) of Origin: Sicily
Place Consumed: Antica Focacceria S. Francesco S.A.S., Palermo, Sicily
Common Features: Vastedda*, veal spleen and lungs, lard
Background: I had a short-list of foods to try on my brief trip to Sicily.  Pani ca meusa incidentally was not included.  Since someone in that eatery had told me it was a local delicacy, I went gung-ho and ordered the sandwich.
Verdict: I neglected to mention that I thought my order was for focaccia, but it appears the cashier decided to haze me with this sandwich instead.  I bet.  The lemon served on the side got me through a few bites, but I couldn’t continue struggling with the onerous taste (there was a hint of iron, but to me it tasted like a balloon flavored with liver).  Allegedly you can get it served with grated caciocavallo or ricotta (also visible in the first photo), so I clearly screwed up.  If you have a cholesterol issue, that is, if you crave things high in cholesterol, and if are really into unsung organ meats, pani ca meusa is a winner.

*(Sicilian) Vastedda– either refers to the bread on which this sandwich is served, or a type of sheep’s milk cheese originating in Sicily

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