mezeCatherine and Abit

For another look at Thanksgiving, we asked Catherine Bayar of Bazaar Bayar, how she celebrates as an expat living in Istanbul and married to a Turk. Catherine and her husband Abit are vintage textile historians and experts. Their mission is about “Saving ‘endangered’ handmade textiles, reviving + reinterpreting disappearing handcrafts, employing local women artisans, and promoting cultural exchange between Turkey + our global visitors.” You can read more about Catherine and Abit, their travel stories, find out about workshops and check out the textiles here.

About Thanksgiving, Catherine says:

“We do celebrate Thanksgiving, either in California with family, or here with American friends in Istanbul. Not sure what I’m taking this year, but the big hit with family when we’re stateside are Turkish meze. Since most of my family has never been here, I like to share what we’re thankful for eating here. I make 3 or 4 of the basic meze –hummus, saksuka (eggplant), pancar ezme (beetroot), but the favorite is muhammara (acuka, ah-ju-ka, in Turkish). What I love about this is the mix of vegetables, nuts and fruit – roasted peppers are of North American origin, walnuts bring prosperity, and pomegranates denote abundance. Pomegranate molasses is an essential ingredient in our house – it also makes the best salad dressing ever with lemon and olive oil.

I love Binnur’s Turkish Cookbook – good versions of all mezes mentioned above can found in it. I use this recipe but add a healthy tablespoon of the molasses and chopped fresh mint as a garnish.”


1 tablespoon red pepper paste,  or 2 roasted red peppers
 3/4 cup walnuts
4-5 tablespoons breadcrumbs
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon molasses

Directions for this recipe and others can be found here.


4 thoughts on “Turkey Meze

  1. Two things are a must in my luggage from Turkey: pomegranate molasses and my aunt’s homemade pepper paste. I left expensive running shoes there just to create space for those. Wayne’s only prenuptial request was to have access to pepper paste no matter what happens to our relationship 🙂 Happy thanksgiving!

    • Happy Thanksgiving to you Zeynep! I have just finish my last TUB of red pepper paste, so jealous you have some! I love making turkey burgers with feta, rep pepper paste, a little worchestire and voila a quick yummy burger with a little rocket or arugula for a quick meal. What about the sour cherry preserves. Turkey is one of my favorite countries on earth to go. Where part are you from?
      Warm regards,

  2. Hi Roni,
    my father was in the army so we traveled around quite a bit. I was born in Erzurum, later lived in Gelibolu, Polatli, Kars and we settled in Ankara after my father’s retirement. My mom is from the Black Sea region (Trabzon) and my dad is from Maras so all over I guess… Homemade pepper paste is simply scrumptious. I only share with with my brother and one friend. So you must be in my inner most circle to be part of the pepper paste exchange.

    Where are you from Roni? And how do you use the sour cherry preserves? Just for breakfast? I am not a jam/jelly person, more of a nutella fanatic I must admit 🙂

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