It is true that sometimes I complain about being internet famous and the enormous amounts of complaints, fanmail (sometimes excessively bizarre) and general weirdness (nearly always excessively bizarre) that it generates.

But the truth is that gems like this make up for everything.

The quite unique Douglas Buchanan who is 79 and a fellow Shivanaut — and altogether the most charming and delightful correspondent a person could wish for — sent me the following in response to last Friday’s post.

Dear Happy Havi and Splendiferous Duck,

At breakfast today I saw my wife Shirley reading a book on Turkish cooking. Apparently she read your blog before I did and picked up on your gentleman friend and his culinary prowess.

We have just totally reorganized our place and Shirley, who was once the recipe columnist of a newspaper I ran in Chicago, put a few dozen of her cookery books aside for our son. Among them was the Turkish book which your blog temporarily saved from expulsion.

Maybe you could ask your talented friend to make you Imam Bayildi which has a great story.

Apparently the Imam fainted when he first tasted it. Two reasons were given. His palate was so overwhelmed with pleasure that he lost consciousness. He fainted again apparently on learning how much olive oil was needed to make it. Pleasure and frugality.

I hope you can get REALLY good olive oil in Portland. I sop it up from a plate with Italian bread and high quality parmesan cheese made from caribou milk, a meal in itself.

My own limited experience with impossibly delectable Turkish cooking is from the Middle Eastern Restaurant in Chicago and from my first experience with Turkish coffee when I was an editor in Chicago and met a fellow alchemist on the premises.

You may like to read ‘Douglas discovers Coffee‘ 02/20/2008 on and your talented friend may know the famous Turkish verse about the importance of coffee:

Gönűl ne kahve ister, ne kahvehane;
Gönűl sohbet ister, kahve bahane !

That is the limit of my knowledge of Turkish but it’s a great verse. Sorry I couldn’t find the right accent for the u, it’s the same as over the ö.

A quicky precis of the Turkish verse is: It’s not the coffee or the coffee house, it’s the relationships that are important, the coffee is just a pretext.

Bliss filled caravans of pleasure from your kitchen to you,

Blessings and Hilarious Quacks,

I know. I wasn’t kidding when I said best correspondent ever. He’s just marvelous.

And yes, my gentleman friend has — on more than one occasion — made for me Imam Bayildi, and it is completely worthy of a good swoon.

Where am I going with this?

Well, of course as soon as I read this I had to tell Douglas all about the best cookbook in the entire world.

And then I thought that I should probably tell you as well. Though now I’ll have nothing to give you for your house-warming party. Crap.

Anyway, the best cookbook in the entire world is Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Jewish Vegetarian Recipes from Around The World by Gil Marks.

If you’re thinking that Jewish + Vegetarian = not especially appealing, just take my word for it. Just this once. This book is outrageously fantastic. We have never made anything less than sensational from this book. ‘Tis the bomb, I tell you.

Plus there’s neat history tidbits! And fun things like maps that track the migration of stuffed peppers around the world! Awesomeness.

And while we’re telling amusing stories, I have one.

My amusing story:

It was a couple of years ago and my father was coming to San Francisco for a conference, so we arranged to spend the better part of a day together.

He handed me a beautiful package wrapped in gold paper and I said something like “Oh hooray, a present! For me!” and he said that no, it was actually for my gentleman friend.

And no, he wouldn’t tell me what it was since it wasn’t for me, it was for my gentleman friend.

I lugged around this box all day and then went home. My gentleman friend saw me enter with the box and we had the following exchange.

My gentleman friend: Oooooh! You got a present!
Me: Uh no, actually you did.
MGF: Huh?
Me: Here you go!
MGF: What is it?
Me: I don’t know. It’s for you.
MGF: Huh?
Me: I know!
MGF: (making box-open-ey noises) Oh wow. It’s a Jewish vegetarian cookbook. Looks like there’s amazing stuff in here.
Me: It’s a what?
MGF: OMG! Ethiopian braised cabbage! Spicy!
Me: You do realize that you’re not actually Jewish or vegetarian, right?
MGF: Well, you know how it is … close enough!
Me: Don’t you think that’s weird?
MGF: No. You’re Jewish and vegetarian. And I cook for you. Hey, I’m going to go make this cabbage thing.
Me: *sigh*
MGF: Oy. What a day. What a day.

Best. Cookbook. Ever.

I’m just saying.

Anyway, you should own it. I asked Douglas if I could reprint his email and here was his response:

Happy One…you have standing permission to use anything I write to you or for you in any way that your elvish and hippy duck loving thump thump thump desires.


Happy Sunday. Make something good to eat.

The Fluent Self