I have a friend named, Mel. Mel is a woman, a real woman-- curvaceous body, flowing, chestnut brown hair, beautiful smile. She is gorgeous. I would hate her were it not for the fact that she is also completely and utterly down to earth, and sincerely kind.
We became fast friends four years ago when her son and my daughter became best buddies in nursery. That their family lived conveniently around the corner from us was a bonus. Camille would spend whole afternoons, from lunch through dinner at Mel’s house coloring pictures with her three sons and eating fantastic meals around their kitchen table.
More than geographic location though, what drew me to Mel was that she loved to cook foods from her native Turkey, and happily shared them with my children and me. Quite often, when I went to fetch Camille, I would be welcomed into Mel’s house with the scent of köftes greeting me at the kitchen door. Never having tasted, or even heard of köftes before, I was curious to try them. After one bite, I became a devoté.
Köftes are little Turkish burgers or meatballs (depending on the chosen shape) made usually of equal parts minced lamb and beef, but sometimes just one or the other. They can be sautéed, broiled, baked or grilled. They are a fabulous change to the more Western style meatball, can be made ahead of time and held in the fridge until just before cooking. They are easy and delicious.
Served with a tahini sauce, crisp lettuce and warm pitas they rival any American comfort food I can think of. Even plain, the way my kids choose to devour them, they are a treat.
Step into Mel’s diner, try one of her country’s favorite foods. I bet you’ll ask for seconds.