Monday, August 22, 2011

Erik the Fruit, not the Man:)

Erik means plum in Turkish. Can (pronounced chan) Erik is a kind of plum which I've only seen in Turkey. They are not like any other kind of plum. Eric is an American name used for males, also the name of one of the vampires in True Blood. So you see Eric is Erik in my mind. They sound very similar. Whenever I hear the name Eric I automatically think of Erik and wish I had some to eat. Funny but it wasn't one of those American guy names I was fond of because I keep thinking of Erik the plum, not the guy. And they are so delicious, the fruit Erik I mean:) Especially the kind Can Erik is harvested only in early Spring for a short period. So in Turkey, we can eat it only once a year. I lived without Can Erik for 13 years in US, occasionally some Turkish markets would import it, but coming all that way it wouldn't taste the same really. Still was great to see the real Erik, not Eric or the regular plums in markets.
By the way I'm not the only one, most Turkish people I would say are fans of Can Erik and can't wait to have some once a year. They are sold in markets now, but also they're a great street food. You just pop it in your mouth, suck and swallow the juicy flesh and spit the pit out (I mean in a container to throw away later, not on the street). Of course best to wash them before eating since its hard to imagine organic and street food being related but while on the street I say it's ok to pop in some risk...
Once, one of my friends, even more of a Can Erik freak than me told me that she was bringing some Can Erik from Turkey and since plants including fruits are not allowed to pass through customs in US she was caught and was told to let them go! Oh No! She was so upset, she actually sat there at customs and tried to eat as much of Erik as possible before letting it go to waste. I mean come on! What else could she do, obviously she isn't a terrorist trying to bring in a toxic plant or something. It's food and it's going to waste!
Anyway, I wanted to write about Erik the plum, especially Can Erik before the plum season is over. There are no more Can Erik now, it was all eaten by June, but we still have some ripe red plums in season.
Note: I ate the most Can Erik I possibly can this year, the year I moved back to Turkey and had dreamed of Erik for 13 years:)
What is so special about Can Erik? These cute golf ball size green hard & juicy plums are not only nutritious but also delicious, full with a unique sour flavor. This Can kind of plum is actually the unripened plum which is why it's so tart and sour. But plums are one of those rare fruits that can be consumed before ripened. Best consumed when chilled and some people like it with salt (to try it with salt you would eat the plum as you dip it in a small container of salt with each bite). I personally like them the way they are, and would recommend eating without the salt or just a few with salt since too much salt can cause bloating, and worsen heart and lung problems.
The online Turkish store Tulumba describes it as: This special plum (Erik) is like nothing you had before. It has a unique tart and sour taste and, unlike other plums, it is very hard. Its fans can't wait for it to arrive each season which usually starts in mid-April and ends in mid-May. The April batches are smaller and the size grows gradually throughout the season.
So when April arrives you can order them from Tulumba or ask for them in a nearby Turkish store if you don't live in Tukey.
How nutritious? Well I actually couldn't find scientific facts on the nutritional quality of specifically Can Erik, but plums (Prunus domestica) in general are low in calories, high in vitamin C, fiber (with the skin of course), and is a good source of vitamin A, K, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and potassium. They are also a good source of antioxidants which help prevent cancer and fight against anemia. The more ripe the more antioxidant. They shouldn't be eaten with current kidney or gallbladder problems because they are high in oxalate which can cause oxalate crystals related to kidney stones. There are 2000 varieties on this planet, mostly known as either Europe originating plums (originated near the Caspian Sea before the Romans) or Japanese originating plums (originated actually in China). They are relatives of the peach, nectarine and almond, and are considered "drupes," fruits that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds. They come in a range of colors, best known for red, green, or purple plums.
When plums are dried, they are known as prunes, and when dried they are more concentrated in fiber which can be more effective in treating constipation (with a glass of water).
So, enjoy a bowl of plums now...and remember April is the season for Can Erik, and check out your nearest Turkish source!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Good and The Bad

"If he was a good person he wouldn't have lied and wouldn't have cheated. He's bad because he lied and wasn't honest. She was real nice, she behaved real good and handled the situation pretty well. It is difficult to understand why she is still thinking about such a bad, cold, and dark person. Maybe it's not him she's thinking about, she thought he was a good person as naive as she is because she is such a kind, loving good person herself. It is almost impossible for her to think badly of someone, although she knows there can be evil people. Or, there is something else effecting her, prompting her. In either case; She was mistaken. He is bad and evil."
My Story.
I was prompted to write about good and bad by one of my yoga teachers while thinking about what to write about. Then, I started to think- What is this good and bad? -and realized that not only me, but we all think of certain things, people, etc as good and bad every second of our lives. Such as...'what a bad tomato and how bad that guy was trying to sell me those awful tomatoes...or 'She gave me a big tip she must be a good person' or 'Oh, they got a divorce, oh no how awful!' etc...It also seems to me people have an inclination towards seeing or labeling things more in the 'Bad' category than the 'Good' which also bothers me. Why do we have to label something or someone as good or bad? Is there really such things as good and bad or is all just good or just bad? And could there be a reason why even Michael Jackson has a famous song singing "I'm Bad." (I love him and this song by the way) So, I have no idea what this all means yet.
But this book I just finished reading (and I love it) also made me think about good and bad.
" Takahashi: After I'd been to the court..and observed a few cases...I found myself less and less able to see these as other people's problems...They're a different kind of human being...Between the world they live in and the world I live in there's this thick, high wall...I'm a pacifist, a good-natured guy...As I sat in court, though, and listened...I became a lot less sure of myself...there really was no such thing as a wall separating their world from mine. Or if there was such a wall, it was probably a flimsy one...the second I leaned on it, I'd probably fall right through and end up on the other side. Or maybe it's that the other side has already managed to sneak its way inside of us, and we just haven't noticed..This system..'trial' thing began to take on the appearance of..a giant has this tremendously powerful life force..moving through the darkness of the ocean..nobody knows where its heart is... There was this case of arson and murder..the guy was sentenced to death..the obvious sentence...all of a sudden..everything got one step darker..colder..Why did I have to lose it like that just because that guy got the death penalty?..Between him and me, there shouldn't have been anything in common, no link at all..and yet, I had this deep emotional upset...What I want to say is...any single human being, no matter what kind of a person he or she may be, is all caught up in the tentacles of this animal like a giant octopus, and is getting sucked into the darkness. You can put any kind of spin on it you like, but you end up with the same unbearable spectacle."
Haruki Murakami - After Dark
After Dark (Vintage International)
At this moment, I'm inclined to think that yes there is good and bad and both good and bad is part of each individual person, situation, thing... Just like there is nothing Perfect. Or if there is we can't comprehend it. I have to admit, in the beginning of my journey of writing this I first thought no matter how bad it may seem, all is really good, (trying to think positively) but now I see that no matter how bad it is, there is also always good in it. In other words, this is all about accepting the little bits of good and little bits of bad crumbles on our path because my crumbles could seem like needles for someone else and theirs could seem like diamonds to me. I feel that these crumbles that on occasion could be perceived as good or on another occasion as bad, actually lead us the the unknown perhaps, but it is the way or the road we as individuals are supposed to be on. So, the good and bad in each person works for them, not to mention the percentage of good and bad probably varies all the time. A person with a certain percentage of good and bad may not always work for me or the good in me might not work for someone whereas the bad in me might work for that person...such and seems it is really just accepting everything as it is, with the good and bad in it, whatever percent they appear as, and decide if it works for you or not...But of course, this is all so ambiguous.
Later, this same yoga teacher noted: If we said good to something just because it says it's good, then there wouldn't be any bad (non-good) things left. If we were to say bad to something that says bad to something else, then there wouldn't be any good (non-bad) things left.
So there is no good nor bad! Noooo
Aaaaaa! All these notes, my story, part of Murakami's story and other stuff piling up in my head. And all this time the murderer from the movie Infamous is in my head. Is there any need for all these? I mean why and how can we be effected by such unexpected and unknown sources? I feel sadness and a bit of fear thinking I too have some bad as well as good just like each one of you. I don't know the percentages, but that varies I suppose. How and Why? These could be unnecessary questions. Isn't that the mystery of life...or is it a miracle? Think it's simply Gorgeous!
It is hard to explain, and this is all so confusing and maybe even silly to think about for some people. But confusion can be a good prompts us to pull back and to look within for a better perspective that give us peace of mind.
To find this peace of mind, I end with some beautiful words by Rumi;
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.

So, let us all meet There...