Turkish bread is nothing short of paradise to your taste buds! Whenever friends come to see us, one of the first things they want to do is go to the nearest little bakery or market and buy some fresh bread. It’s just so warm, crusty on the outside, hollow-sounding, soft-centred, light…the perfect bread. We’re not being biased here. It’s that good! And the special Ramazan pide bread eaten during the holy month is no different!
Bread & Turkish Culture
Bread is hugely important to Turkish culture. It is treated with respect. Traditionally, it’s eaten with every meal and it should certainly never go to waste. This is seen as disrespectful as it is the staple of all foods. If times are tough and food is short, there’s always bread! So, the local bakery, with it’s huge stone oven (thankfully, for these two bread lovers), is still very much a part of the Turkish neighbourhood. And, during Ramazan, these bakeries will be extra busy, baking the special Ramazan pide bread.
Ramazan Pide Bread
This type of pide bread is not to be confused with the delicious savoury pide you eat in restaurants around Turkey. The pronunciation is the same (pee-deh) and they are both types of flat bread. But the Ramazan pidesi is an out and out loaf, slightly risen. The baker will shape it into a round, he’ll criss cross it with patterns or press dimples into it with his fingers. Then he’ll sprinkle the dough with sesame seeds and nigella seeds before sliding it into the abyss of the fırın (the stone oven) to bake.
During Ramazan in Fethiye, just before sunset, there will be a buzz around the local bakery. The fırın will be packed with pide bread, the freshly baked rounds will be stacked high on the counters (no time to put them on display) and the queue will often snake through the shop, spilling onto the pavement outside.
Aroma Of freshly Baked Pide Bread
Imagine that aroma of all those freshly baked loaves wafting through the early evening air. Some of those in the queue will have fasted throughout the daylight hours. Imagine how dreamlike that aroma must be for them! Many of us in the queue – because we love the Ramazan pidesi, too – won’t have fasted. But, everyone takes part in the eating of this special bread.
Just before sunset, as families prepare for Iftar (the breaking of the fast) local bakeries are almost unbearably hot; fans whirring, pide bread glowing in the oven, customers being served at breakneck speed. Well, we’re all here for the same thing, aren’t we? It’s a conveyor belt. No time for small talk now. Choose your loaf, get it wrapped in paper (you don’t want it to sweat because it’s still warm), pay your cash and leave the building. ‘Next please!’ The sunset waits for no one!
These days, we live in a (dietary) world of, “I’m not eating bread. I’m not eating carbs. That’s the only way to lose weight.” Ahh, well, this is Turkey. And in Turkey, we love our lavash bread. Really, why on earth are we going to deprive ourselves of that pure simple joy of walking back from the bakery at sunset, warm pide bread wrapped in paper, and sneaking a little chunk of it before reaching home? It’s very rare a Ramazan Pidesi makes it back to the house completely intact!
Why Eat Pide Bread?
We’re not Muslim and, of course, we don’t do Iftar (the meal people eat after sundown during Ramazan). So why do we take ourselves off to the local bakery to join the clamour for fresh pide bread? Well, in Fethiye, Ramazan can kind of happen all around you without you really noticing. Aside from our love of freshly baked bread, the special pide bread is just our little way of taking part and acknowledging that it is a special time.
Amongst other things, Ramazan is a time for sharing and the pide bread is shaped so that it’s easy to tear and share. Even if there’s just the two of us, in our house, we love to tear and share the fresh pide bread dipped into Barry’s homemade jalfrezi! Sometimes, we’ll even splash out and put a bit of garlic butter on it, too. And leftovers don’t go to waste, of course. We use the rest as a special accompaniment to our Turkish beef saute recipe.
Just a quick tip:
Turkish bread is baked fresh, daily. It doesn’t have preservatives so it tends to go soft and chewy after just a few hours. If this happens to you and you don’t fancy toast instead, stick it in the oven on around 150 degrees for about 5 minutes and you’ll get that ‘just-baked’ texture back.