Çekme Pasta

Pasta - Turkey

It's said that mothers in Foça, Turkey used to say 'Foça kids never feel full without eating pasta.' Traditional cuisine from this area along Turkey's western coast used to include many shapes of homemade pasta thanks to the prevalence of wheat crops. The Turkish words çekme or kesme are adjectives describing the pulled or cut nature of the pasta. In Foça, where the city fire brigade is located today, there used to be a well and a mill where the townspeople would make the brown flour for making pasta, sieving out larger pieces of bran, but including the smaller pieces for their flavor. Various shapes of pasta are a part of this tradition, from farfalle (butterfly) shaped pasta to a traditional Turkish fettuccine called kesme eri?te. Today, many of these are remembered only by older generations. Various sauces are also associated with this tradition, including the çekme makarna pasta with cheese sauce made from sepet - a goat or sheep's milk cheese that would be ground a few days in advance and left to dry, then fried in olive oil and poured over the pasta. Today, this sauce is usually made with tulum cheese, a very sharp and salty cheese. The pasta dough itself is generally made with just flour, salt and water today, but in the past boiled milk or occasionally eggs would also be added. In the past, on Fridays Foça women would cook pasta and take it to make a wish from saint-like Makarna Dede's (also known as Çiplak Dede's) tomb. They would eat some of the pasta there and leave the rest for the birds and nature. Hundreds of years ago, another ritual was to hide a small amount of gold inside the pasta, then hold a traditional folk dance. After the dance, whoever found the gold in their pasta was considered lucky all year long. Despite its connection to the agriculture and culture of Foça, today, this pasta making tradition has been forgotten by younger generations. Çekme or kesme pasta is not found for sale commercially, but still prepared in some households for family consumption.