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Pain Perdu With Sour Cherries

Sep 12, 2011

This post is about the few days at our house in Çeşme, how everything is surrounded by food or how food is surrounded by everything else. If you remember from my posts of last summer, like assorted stuffed vegetables, black mulberry marmalade or white peach and wild purslane salad, spending time in another climate different that the one I live in with the beloved members of my family fills my days with joy and cherishment. And cherries.

550My father with sour cherries
Markets are set up in different districts of Çeşme by local producers almost everyday of the week and not a day goes by without rending one a visit. And not just for buying a bag of potatoes. Once last year my grandfather had returned with 17 kilograms of tomatoes that made us ridicule the old man for days. But when the whole 17 kilos disappeared in a week thanks to the nine of us, it appeared that he had a point.
Whatever is brought in from those marketplaces is worthy of admire by anyone who is doomed to shop in supermarkets in a city like Istanbul, where I'm accustomed to buying parsley with cloth-thick leaves, tomatoes with pale insides, eggplants that gone bitter... So I get pleasure simply by touching, smelling and admiring the organic looks of every peace of vegetable and fruit that comes out from those market bags. Take white peaches, sour cherries or the juicy sweet apricots we picked and ate from the neighbour's garden in early summer... The corn of Çeşme, the thing I have difficulty separating from the most, deserves a whole paragraph of eulogy. When I'm going back to Istanbul couple of them usually travel with me in my suitcase to keep me happy for a day or two more.
The unique Çeşme corn
Everyday after breakfast over Turkish coffee, a plan is made for what to cook for lunch and dinner. While I'm still struggling to get over my sleepyheadedness, things start being chopped, cooked and smoking in kitchen. Although there are plenty of females in the family, my mom orchestrates kitchen work as she stands out for her cooking skills and experience. I sneak out to the beach for a quick wake-me-up swim and get back home to help prepare and eat lunch. Then comes nap time followed by a prolonged sea session, with a little reading - Ian Mcewan if I haven't exhausted all his books yet - and sometimes I shamelessly snooze more on the day bed. Towards 6 o'clock we head back home for a glass of Turkish tea alongside ricotta cookies bought from the bakery downtown, at the back porch, followed by dinner preparations.
To someone like me, being home where there is constant cooking action while not only I am not in charge but also my offer for help is constantly declined by mom who spoils me by saying that I should enjoy my time outside instead of in the kitchen. Have I mentioned before that I'm the youngest in family? So that leaves me lingering around with my camera, taking shots of homemade food without moving a finger. Heavenly.
Barbun ve salata Fried red mullets and "shepherd's salad"
BabamMy dad with his favourite drink "rakı"
If you've been following my blog for a while now you might remember the Red Paprika Bread recipe which became interestingly the most viewed post in my English blog so far. My mom knowing that I am crazy about this bread, thought of trying a new take on this recipe. She prepared the filling and asked the bakehouse nearby to spread her paprika filling on pitta doughs and bake in their pita oven. On the day of our arrival she was talking about a surprise and this turned out to be it: freshly ovened paprika flat breads! These were genially vegetarianised lahmacun - a very common specialty from the Southeastern Turkish kitchen.
Biberli ekmek My mom's invention: paprika flat bread
biberli lahmacun yapılırken Preparing flat breads at the bakehouse
Kizartmaa The classic summer's fried vegetables
We had fried vegetables, one of the reasons I've been yearning for summer, we had season's fish, fried and grilled, meatballs almost thrice a week and when the sour cherries appeared on market stalls, we ate one my favourite home made desserts, pain perdu with sour cherries, almost every other day. My feeling is that this pain perdu with sour cherries is the Turkish counterpart to the cherry claufoutis of France, a traditional dessert of the Limousine area that was developed by peasants to make good use of left over cherries.
My father have always dismissed this as a "fake dessert" and as a child I never quiet understood why he would underestimate something as delicious as this, just because it is made from old bread. Influenced by his attitude, presenting pain perdu recipe in my blog didn't hit me as a precious idea, until I saw in Gordon Ramsay's Best Menus cookbook a pain perdu recipe with raspberries. Hence comes my mother's famous pain perdu with sour cherries of the season. I certainly hope that, unlike my father, you will appreciate it.
Vişne Tiriti

Pain Perdu with Sour Cherries

serves 4


  • 1 kg sour cherries, washed and seeds removed
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 2 slices of bread per person, sliced with 1.5-2 cm thickness
  • 1 large egg for every 3 slices
  • pinch of salt
  • sun flower oil or other deep frying oil


  1. Combine cherries with sugar and water in a pot. Stirring occasionally, bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Whisk eggs with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Briefly dip slices of bread to coat each side with eggs. Fry them in a frying pan with a generous amount of frying oil, each side for a minute or two, until golden.
  3. Pour the cherry syrup to a large bowl. Transfer fried bread slices right from the frying pan to the bowl. Wait until they soak enough syrup then place them to a flat serving dish. Top each slice with cherries and serve with extra syrup on the side. The remaining syrup stays fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks and can be used for next pain perdus.
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