Exploring The Turkish Kitchen Blog



A competent and well-respected confectioner was enamoured of a handsome woman but had neither been able to gain an audience with her father, the local magistrate nor get close enough to her to discretely express his favour. 

For several years the confectioner admired her from afar, his heart pounding within, each time he managed to gain the smallest glimpse of her beauty. 

The only creature of whom he shared his anguish was the parrot who entertained his visiting patrons. His undisclosed and presumed unrequited love tortured him day and night but the more he suffered in the silent war of love the greater his sweetmeats became. 

 

 

Word of his delicious pastries and preserves began to spread far and travellers would divert from long, arduous journeys for several days to taste just a morsel of his delights. 

One day whilst stoking a fire under a cauldron afront the store, the unseen confectioner, unusual for he was a vast round centred man, overheard the handmaiden of the woman stating that her lady had now refused so many suitors she was beginning to get a reputation.

Caring nothing for thoughts of courtship she enjoys to recline upon the haremlik divans devouring all the honey and jams brought by the numerous families who continuously ask for a union of marriage.

 

 Turkish divan cusion on wooden flour with gold scarf and vanity mirror. Plate show small tins of Turkish desserts and sweets.

 

The confectioner felt terribly guilty and upset that he had succumbed to eavesdropping and gossip but felt a burning hope travelling from the freshly lit fire to his pounding heart.

On hearing the news of the woman's fondness for sweet treats the confectioner worked day and night perfecting his trade to attend quickly to the task of conquering her heart. 

Overworked, exhausted but with the hope that sweet tastes would inspire sweet thoughts towards him, the confectioner began to send weekly small parcels full of the freshest batches of helva, baklava and lokum.

The woman and her family repeatedly accepted the gifts graciously but this was not enough to convince the family to grant an audience for the confectioner of whom social standing and riches meant nothing compared to courtship and desire. 

 

Turkish desserts in a box surrounded by light blue headscarf. Box holds large peices of baklava and rear. Burma kadayıf strands bankalava, mini baklava, and turkish delight with walnuts at the front.

 

One day after the sun had set, and another box provided no return messenger, the confectioner with sunken shoulders, a heavy heart and cries of woos towards his beloved bird began to extinguish the candles of both his store and heart.

Upon exiting his premises the confectioner stumbled into a dark shadowy figure. A bareheaded wanderer greeted the proprietor with words of peace and after hearing the appointed return greeting, apologised for disturbing him after the close of trading, informing him that he had travelled from afar to try his famed sweatmeats.

The downcast sweet maker told the traveller that he was welcome to all of the sweets the store held and that if he was in fact, to take them all away it would be a blessing on his wounded head.

He had only wretched feelings towards the helva and baklava as he packaged and gave them to the wandering Persian with prayers and alms. 

Shortly after the man's departure, the confectioner collapsed onto his bed moaning and groaning with exhaustion telling himself he would be but an unworthy suitor to love and to the guild that came with the trade he had mastered over so many years. 

 

 

To the disappointment of both local patrons and the merchants upon diverted journeys, the sweet maker refused to bake sweetmeats again and the only trade his store did was produced by the inadequate apprentices he had neglected over time. 

The family of the girl whom he had secretly loved for years were the most perturbed by the sudden cessation of sweet favours and sent a messenger to inform him that if he were to resume sweet making again and to produce a sweet fine enough to calm their daughter's anger they would allow him to marry her.

The confectioner beside himself with excitement and agitation rushed to the store and for a long time rummaged through all his supplies and equipment.

Whilst attempting to light the brick oven the confectioner heard sounds at the storefront and stood once again in the moonlight was a bareheaded man. 

'What do you want at this hour?' the sweetmaker exclaimed 'Can't you see I am to busy for guests'

'Master of sweet making, I return because I too am restless and can not stop thinking of unobtained desire. Several moons ago you gave me a sample of sweetmeats; I have travelled both west and east and never have I eaten with such pleasure. Just as you seek love, I seek the knowledge and art for this secret and in exchange for this tutorage, I will teach you to pull honey into wool, the one sweet I too have perfected, before embarking on this journey.

With the unspoken understanding of each others skill, the two men spent the hours of darkness exchanging, side by side, silently working and observing, and once the new sweet was boxed the Persian vanished like a night owl into the dawn's rising light. 

The following afternoon the confectioner arranged for the delivery of his new sweet to the magistrate's daughter. Despairing and breathing with anxiety as he waited for news the sweet maker withdrew to his bed and covered himself from the world with heavy blankets.

 

Chocolate and vanilla Pismaniye, Turkish cotton candy sweet in a glass serving dish and lid 

 

By the time of the evening prayers call, a messenger of the magistrate came to collect the confectioner and present him to his master. 

The officer of law waiting to take his attendance in his selamlik revealed that his daughter had been sated by the sweet gift, and would accept his declaration of love dependant only on what title had been given to this new sweet. 

The confectioner considered that the woman may be more disposed to his affection if he named the finely made candy after her but despaired that in eight years had never learnt her name. 

At that moment a hot, dry gust of southeasterly wind entered the room and briefly swept away the curtain separating the room reserved for guests and those of the house and the sweetmaker caught a fleeting glimpse of the beautiful woman who had been intently listening in. 

Seeing her round curvaceous form the confectioner suddenly declared 'Şişmaniye', - my fatty!

To the muffled giggles of the hidden household, the sweetmaker, shamed from his outburst wished to beg the pardon of the magistrate but instead was swept up with warm gestures of goodness and generosity. Throughout the household, celebratory cries were made and plans of matrimony began.

The confectioner and the magistrate's daughter's union was celebrated over three days of revelry but soon after the feast ended she unveiled herself as a conceited and rapacious bride who demanded that all the trays of sweetmeats that the confectioner produced should be first served to herself.

Each time a new tray was removed from the burning oven, the smells and sound of honey syrup hitting the hot trays would entice the woman to the kitchens and afraid that another would find the dish, sweeter, crispier, tastier than herself her jealousy would demand a larger allocation. 

 

 

To keep up with her unrelenting demands the sweetmaker once again increased his working hours. Attempting to counter her once charming, refreshingly vigorous hunger for sweetmeats the confectioner grew feeble and resentful.

'But where will I find the money for supplies?' gasped sweet maker on the day his wife demanded a new helva to be made in her honour. 

Devastated, the woman began throwing empty trays upon the shop floor and as she cried and moaned a small crowd of prying patrons gathered around the store and witnessed the wife's demand for divorce.

'You have devoured my entire business and still, you expect more, I am travelling to my deathbed and you give nothing in return'

Upon hearing the raucous the passing magistrate hid within the rabble and saw the sweet maker ashamed and pale from his working and living conditions. 

Despairing and sour-faced they both asked the magistrate for a divorce the moment he dispersed the crowd and came forward.

Understanding that the sweetmaker had accumulated masses of debts by borrowing for the ingredients required to sustain his wife and business it was agreed without contest. The woman would keep the store, equipment and all appointed apprentices, the sweetmaker would walk away only with his beloved cauldron, cart and cotton-strand-candy recipe. 

 

One close up pismaniye hive with ground pistachio on top. Background shows blurred mixed pişmaniyes  

 

Stripped of his wealth, reputation and fame the confectioner began a long and slow journey towards the city. 

Whenever he needed to make money he found a place to set up his cauldron and sold only a single product. 

A hive of thin linen-like strands of honey and flour, lighter than an angels hair. 

No longer sold as 'Şişmaniye', but as 'Pişmaniye' - regret.  

 

Liked this story? for more creative writing / Stories behind Turkish Dishes Click Here

 

A pinnable image resembling a book cover for pişmaniye short story.

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