Traditional Turkish cuisine is more than the sum of its ingredients, although in the right hands, those ingredients produce a delicious meal typical of the eastern Mediterranean.
“Turkish food is not just for the nourishment of the body,” says Dr. Eda Alphan. “It brings us together and enables us to share both sad and happy moments, to grieve together and to celebrate together. It is very important to us.”
On academic leave from Akdeniz University, where she teaches gastronomy and culinary arts, Dr. Alphan is teaching classes in Silver Bay this summer that explore both the material and the social dimensions of Turkish cuisine.
“It is a real hands-on experience,” said David Martucci, owner of Northern Lake George Resort and Martucci’s restaurant, where the cooking classes are held Thursdays and Fridays from 1 pm to 4 pm.
Every class culminates in the creation of a traditional Turkish meal which is shared by the students and Dr. Alphan. Classes are limited to six individuals and carry a tuition fee of $75 person.
According to Martucci, Eda Alphan first came to Lake George in 2014 as an international student traveling on a J-One Visa that enabled her to work at the Northern Lake George Resort.
“Eda Alphan is no stranger to Lake George,” he said.
Alphan said, “I had a great experience here; I made a lot of friends and developed a lot of relationships. I came back as a vacationer in 2018 and again last year. This year, I’m here to teach the cooking classes and, I hope, something about Turkish culture.”
Alphan’s cooking classes are based on the workshops in Turkish cuisine she teaches at her university.
“I introduce Turkish culture and Turkish culinary culture to my students, and then proceed to discuss the dishes and how they are made,” said Alphan. “I plan the recipes in advance and take care of much of the prep work. We then prepare a four-course meal together and then dine together, finishing with a sweet like rice pudding and traditional Turkish beverages, tea or coffee.”
Alphan hopes that she is able to communicate not only her passion for Turkish cuisine with her students, but her passion for food from all cultures.
“I love food. It’s my life. I love quality food and it has a lot of meaning for me,” said Alphan. “When I am with friends, I want to eat something with them. When I am eating breakfast, I am planning what I will make for dinner.”
Alphan’s traces her love of food to her childhood, to her father’s bakery.
“My father is a very good bakery chef, and I grew up with his cakes. But I was always passionate about food, which made me very picky about what I would eat,” she said.
At Eda Alphan’s cooking classes, students can expect to experience Turkish culture, as well as learn something about it.
“We are a very hospitable people,” she said. “When you come to my house, you will be served food. We believe the table should always be full of food.”