Yashim Cooks Istanbul, with Jason Goodwin

An evening of food, history, harems & hilarity to celebrate the publication of Jason’s new book, Yashim Cooks Istanbul, bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic

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As Jason writes, 'I put the food in my novels, because when Yashim entertains his friends to dinner, he invites readers into the half-lost world of 19th century Istanbul. Now I’ve compiled those and other recipes into a cook book, Yashim Cooks Istanbul. There are delicious family dishes like a Greek fisherman’s stew, pumpkin soup or aubergine chicken wraps, alongside more unusual recipes for feasts, from stuffed mackerel to hazelnut and lemon pilaf, or fish poached in paper. They are interwoven with snatches of Yashim’s stories, and illustrated with some of the familiar sights of Yashim’s world.'

Stupendous quantities of food came into Istanbul: every region of the Ottoman Empire had its speciality and the best of everything arrived in its season - water melon and green onions from Bursa, figs from Aegean Coast, fruit from the Black Sea. Vegetables came from market gardens snuggled up beneath the ancient Byzantine city walls, and different districts of the city became famous for certain products, like the clotted cream of Euyp, or the flaky pastries of Karakoy. The garlic came from Izmit, lemons from Mersin, cheeses in skins from the mountains of Moldavia. The imperial palace in a city of imperial appetite, produced a cookery defined along with the Chinese and the French as one of the three great food cultures of the world.

When Jason Goodwin’s Ottoman sleuth grew tired of crime fighting through the streets and palaces of old Istanbul, he retreated to his kitchen.

So now Jason returns with a sumptuous collection of his favourite Ottoman recipes, observations, stories and pictures. ‘Popular Detective Series Gets Its Own Cookbook,’ tootled a feature on America’s national breakfast radio show, propelling YASHIM COOKS ISTANBUL into the bestseller lists and turning Jason Goodwin into a media chef overnight.

Jason will tell the Ebenezers how a fictional account of making fesenjan (a Persian chicken stew) in the first of his award-winning thrillers pushed him, five books later, into writing, photographing, testing, publishing and promoting a complete Ottoman cook book. He’ll talk about the extraordinary input he received from readers around the world, and the giddiness that accompanied his climb up the steep learning curve that went with taking professional photographs and writing things down in metric and imperial measurements.

Jason will tell us of his successes and failures on the way, with a sumptuous selection of slides.

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Jason Goodwin

Jason studied Byzantine history at Cambridge University - and returned to an old obsession to write The Gunpowder Gardens or, A Time For Tea: Travels in China and India in Search of Tea, which was shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Award.

When the Berlin Wall fell, he walked from Poland to Istanbul to encounter the new European neighbours. His account of the journey, On Foot to the Golden Horn, won the John Llewellyn Rhys/Mail on Sunday Prize in 1993.

His first Yashim mystery, The Janissary Tree, won the 2007 Edgar Allan Poe Award and became an international bestseller. His books have been translated into over forty languages. He lives in Dorset with his wife Kate and their four children.

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2016Martin Keeley