Yeni Raki Global

FoodieBackpacker on Cooking For Others

arafed man looking out over a blue ocean and a beach

​​In part two in our conversation with Foodie Backpacker, a travelling cook from Turkey, we discussed the foods he loves to serve to his guests.

“I love when my guests leave me to decide the menu. That way, I can go to the market and choose the freshest products on the day. I like doing a fusion of cuisines between the food from the country I'm visiting and Turkish.

The menu of Turkish and Spanish fusion food

I enjoyed seafood so much so when I was in Spain leaving me with lots of inspiration. When I returned to Istanbul I wrote a new menu of Turkish and Spanish fusion food. One dish I make is a seafood hummus using shrimps and scallops. First, you take the fish stock from the fresh fish and add it to the hummus while blending it, in place of the hot water or olive oil you'd normally add to make it smoother. Once at the right consistency, then instead of normally adding parsley or sumac on top, I add some scallops or shrimps.

“If I write a book, it would be about travelling and food"

I never thought of writing a recipes book but lots of people are telling me to write about my experiences. I'm already posting everything on Facebook and I do some blogging, so I have an online collection and it would be easy to turn that into a book with my photos. If I write a book it would never be a recipe book, it would be about travelling and food.

I've learnt how to improvise really well, sometimes you have something in your mind but you can't serve it so you have to find something else or come up with something new.

Improvising with food

In Amsterdam three weeks ago I bought some cabbage leaves which were supposed to get really soft once you boil them for 2 hours, but this time for some reason they didn't. I was going to stuff the cabbage leaves with some fish and rice, but when the leaves weren't softening, I needed to switch. So I created a soup with the cabbage and the fish stock and with some rice and seafood I created a Turkish style of Paella. Instead of one meal, I made two and everyone was happy. Improvising is a must!

Another interesting experience was in Belgrade. A jazz bar wanted me to cook in their garden whilst the musicians were playing jazz. It's my favourite place to go in Belgrade so I quickly said I'd do it, but when I arrived they couldn't give me a proper kitchen.

The worst experiences but it was a ​​great story

So they showed me the kitchen they had above the bar. It was a hostel kitchen, with only a small portable oven with two electrical stoves – I was meant to be cooking for 90 people. My shopping list read something like, 25kg of aubergine, 30kg of tomatoes and everything in the menu was supposed to be roasted. To predict how long it would take was a big challenge and a big risk. In the end, I had to cook for 17 hours across 2 days, in that small oven but I did it.

It might seem like one of the worst experiences but it was actually one of the best and a great story to tell. On the night there wasn't a single seat left, meeting and talking to everyone. In the end, it was such a nice experience."