What is Turkish Delight?

Turkish delight or lokum is a family of confections  They consist of small, fragrant cubes of jelly, traditionally flavoured with rosewater, orange flower water or lemon juice and dusted with icing sugar. Premium varieties consist largely of chopped dates, pistachios, and hazelnuts or walnuts bound by the gel

The origin of Turkish Delight

The origin of the confection is not well established, but it is known to have been produced in Turkey as early as the late 1700s, hence its name. Turkish delight are served with coffee or tea in the Middle East.

Why was Turkish Delight C.S. Lewis”s guilty pleasure?

“In C.S. Lewis’s classic novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund Pevensie enters a wardrobe and finds himself magically transported to a snowy kingdom. An unknown queen, who turns out to be a witch, asks him what he would most like to eat. The answer that jumps to his mind is Turkish delight. Within moments, he is eating a box of it.

Turkish delight is the British name for a sweet called lokum, one of many spellings and a corrupted version of the original phrase, rahatü’l-hulkum, which means “giving rest to the throat.” Mary Işın, a food historian and author of Sherbet & Spice: The Complete Story of Turkish Sweets and Desserts, which includes a full chapter on the history of lokum, dates the origins of the sweet to the 18th century. Lokum was probably invented by palace confectioners, though the original exporter, Hacı Bekir, claims to have masterminded it.

Turkish delight has never been successfully manufactured in Europe.

Lokum has only a few basic ingredients, but it is far from simple to make. An 1894 journal describes the process in great detail, warning that the starch must be stirred by two people, taking turns, in exactly the same way, to prevent any differences in consistency or dreaded sugar crystallization.

When the paste is well formed, it is poured out into little wooden moulds, these moulds being first of all sprinkled with finely powdered sugar, to prevent the sweetmeat adhering to them. The contents of the moulds are then poured out on to marble slabs, and, by the aid of a peculiarly shaped knife, the locoum is cut into strips about three centimetres wide, and these strips are again cut into small cubical pieces.

The intensity of this process and the skill required may be why lokum has never been successfully manufactured in Europe. Although many people tried, and put forth reasons why their attempts weren’t successful (one secretary of state for foreign affairs blamed the water, among other things), the sweet seemed impossible to replicate. Nothing was quite the same as the fresh stuff early-19th-century tourists purchased on popular visits to Turkey, in pursuit of what Işın calls the “exotic Orient.”

(Text in quotation marks from: Daily JSTOR)


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