Tidings Summer 2010

Page 22


Two Alumni Pay Tribute to Food Experiments the donair By Scott Andrew Christensen (BA’90) An alumnus in Turkey looks at the local incarnation of the hallowed Halifax street food I’ve almost burnt the broth for the scalloped potatoes. They’ve been a hit amongst many on both Burgazada and the inner bastions of Ankara. But that wouldn’t be very local, would it, going on about a Maritime rendition of some French recipe sitting here overlooking the Sea of Marmara? Back in the days when mother made the meals, turkey was a mainstay of JudeoChristian celebrations. Here, when the moon delivers Kurban Bayram livestock to tables in honor of Işmael’s ascent in the offering arms of İbrahim, poultry takes a backseat— trunk, even—to the cross-border appeal of that father of fast-food, the incomparable döner. How can one not mention this delicious dinner in the same breath as their alma-mater? Who can forget classmates slung along the road during a Spring Garden dawn praising the New World delivery of our favorite sandwich? Here in Turkey, the dönerci draws his sabre, initiating the ages-old assembly: he mauls a half-loaf of split-top, almondshaped pita, slicing an opening; tongs the slips of plummeted meat in tandem with any


Tidings | summer 2010

adorning combination of tomatoes, onions, torşu (akin to pickles), and a lining of patates tave, aka French fries, all the while yelling with the requisite hospitality. Face it, food-o-philes—don’t let anyone tell you baklava and yogurt comes from anywhere else other than the inventive Ottoman! Here, the sweet sauce is absent—that sticky gruel of condensed milk and sugar and who-knows-what penetrating your panicking cuffs. Some spits—the vertical variety patented by a patron from Bursa named İskendar—are emblazoned with spicy green peppers (sivri biber) and/or tomatoes sizzling from the turn of the mechanical skewer. Honored for his ingenuity, İskendar is still represented to this day through a dish commending his name: döner meat bedded on cubes of pide bread, topped with tomato sauce, a side of yogurt, a roast pepper or two, and emblazoned with rivulets of melted butter. The small fortune of meat I salted away below the shadow of the Halifax Regional Library, is, in retrospect, well-worth the imbibing. Perhaps it planted a rootless seed of unmapped migration, some penchant to follow these Roman roads rife with the philosophers that frustrated so many of my fellow freshmen. It’s a kernel sowed in the murmuring echoes of the Mediterranean, our minds inked with the indelible art of Foundation Year mornings.

Z a mpo ne Lindsay Cameron-Wilson (BA ’95, BJ ’99) Take a walk on the wild side of pork The five-course meal starts out strong. Fragrant, amber-coloured stock fills a shallow white porcelain bowl. Fresh pillows of gnocchi and slivers of garlic scrapes swirl within. Next comes a warm plate featuring what looks like a thick slice of sausage nestled within a spoonful of soft, puréed lentils and a touch of zucchini pickle. The sausage, made from pork, cinnamon, nutmeg and Parmesan cheese is encased in a thick, cream-coloured casing. I scoop out the filling with my fork, and top it with helpings of lentils and pickle. The combination of flavours and textures – tart, sweet, salty but fresh, creamy, with a little pickle crunch—are incredible. As the filling is devoured, its casing falls limp like a thick ring of bacon fat onto the plate. 
The chef is my friend Larry, who grows his own vegetables, makes his own cheese and raises turkeys, ducks and chickens. When the course is finished, he looks at my plate, crestfallen. As a fellow food professional, I have broken a tie that had bound us together. I am no longer brave in his eyes, no longer authentic, no longer a practical eater. 
I’m just a squeamish city girl who eats high on the hog. The dish is called zampone, a speciality of Modena, Italy. To make zampone, Larry shaves the pig’s trotters of excess hair with a Bic disposable razor. He then bones and washes them, then fills them with a rough sausage called cotechino. The whole thing is then oven braised for 4 hours, sliced into thick rounds, and served with a lentil purée. The word zampa means paw; a large trotter is called a zampone; a small one is a zampino. Zampa, zampone or zampino; I just… can’t do it. There I’ve said it. In fact, if I had a postcard handy, I’d post a secret: I can’t handle a little pig’s foot with a few short hairs still attached. While I’m at it, I may as well add: Really red blood sausage grosses me out. Sweetmeats? No thanks. I could never knowingly eat horse or dog. And don’t even