saygin_ersin_piri_lezzetThe Pasha of Cuisine
Saygın Ersin

German: Hoffmann und Campe in a pre-empt

There are few better ways to understand a culture than by investigating its cuisine. In the tradition of great novels, SWEETBITTER, this year’s runaway hit to the THE JOY LUCK CLUB where the characters feasted away on Chinese food, Hemingway’s A MOVEABLE FEAST, Muriel Barberry’s GOURMET RHAPSODY, Fannie Flagg’s FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, Emile Zola’s THE BELLY OF PARIS, Banana Yoshimoto’s KITCHEN among others, comes a brilliant, writer from Turkey and his delicious new novel, THE PASHA OF CUISINE.
The Pasha of Cuisine is a novel about an Ottoman chef, the namesake of this book who has the ability to create magic with the dishes he cooks. A master of gastronomy, he is a sovereign of taste and one of those rare geniuses who grace the world but once every few centuries…

The Pasha of Cuisine (Pir-i Lezzet), is a talent rarely found on the face the earth. According to the legend, only two kids, or three at most, are born with such a gift. The Pasha of Cuisine is the ruler of the kitchen and the cuisine. He can prevail all aromas and scents, with the meals he prepares, he can control the minds and the emotions of others.
The Pasha of Cuisine is a novel of banquets and history, of masters and apprentices, of journeys and passion…This is the story of a boy born in the royal palace as a prince who, when he is just five years old, manages to survive one of the most brutal palace massacres in Ottoman history. When it is discovered that he has a knack for cooking, he is taken under the wing of the leading chef of the time. At a young age he is lucky enough to meet the love of his life but ultimately he is unable to hold onto her as he falls victim to palace intrigues and schemes…

The novel tells the story of how this young chef sets out on a journey to learn the secrets of his trade so he can become the Pasha of Cuisine and how later in life he sets out to find his true love, settle past accounts, and take revenge for the wrongs he’s suffered.

The Pasha of Cuisine is also the story of the people he meets during this journey:

Head Chef İsfendiyar, who saves his life and discovers that he has the potential to be a great chef… Master Adem, his first teacher and a father figure, as well as the source of his biggest disappointment… Kamer, the love of his life… Sirrah, a patroness and one of the most dangerous women in Istanbul… Itırlar Hanım, the wise queen of all the spices and scents of the world… The twins Sa’d and Sadr el Haki, one a profound soothsayer and the other a learned doctor… The towering Neyyir Ağa, one of the Harem’s eunuchs… The Sultan, the Chief Sword Bearer, the Head of the Privy Chamber, the Provincial Treasurer, the Imperial Consort, the palace guards, and the Janissaries…

This is the story of Ottoman Palace Cuisine which became one of the world’s greatest culinary traditions and the skilled cooks, vast storerooms, colossal stoves, clattering knives, and endless plots and jealousies that made the Imperial Kitchen so renowned.
And, of course, The Pasha of Cuisine is a story of culinary delights… Diverse Ottoman cuisine was amalgamated and honed in the Imperial Palace’s kitchens by chefs brought from certain parts of the empire to create and experiment with different ingredients. They were brought over from various places for the express purpose of experimenting with exotic textures and ingredients and inventing new dishes, and they served for 10.000 people every day! Meat was used in most foods. Kebabs and stews with every kind of meat were cooked in the palace kitchens. Birds such as chicken and duck were mostly roasted on a spit and you’ll read one of the most difficult recipe of The Ottoman Palace kitchen: Enveloped kebab which is cooked with different types of meat (turkey-partridge-chicken-quail). These poultries are put in each other in a size order, enriched with spices and put in oven. Have you seen green pilaf before? The Turks’ fondness for pilaf was such that it attracted the attention of travellers. It is an easy recipe, but among the indispensable tastes of the Ottoman cuisine. Spinach is boiled and crushed in strainer, then filtered with the help of a muslin. You can use this green water to cook your pilaf! How about a milk kebab? Lamp is boiled in milk, and meat is lined on a spit and slowly cooked. There is more…
This is the tale of the dishes prepared by the Pasha of Cuisine which have been forgotten over time, dishes which could be both laborious and also quite simple to prepare; these gustatory treasures whetted the appetite, stirred emotions and captivated minds, and they could also give life and take it away.
But The Pasha of Cuisine is not just a culinary novel—it is the story of everything goes into the grand art of cooking, including poetry, providence and passion.