When the suffix -ci (pronounced ‘zhee’) is added to a Turkish noun it means ‘a maker of’ that thing. Thus a katmerci is a maker of katmer, the crunchy pancake that is a speciality of Gaziantep, in southeastern Anatolia. The supreme katmerci in that foodie city is a man named Mehmet Özsimitci, whose surname translates as ‘maker of genuine simits’. That tells you that one of his ancestors was a specialist in the pretzel/bagels that every Turk consumes as a street snack.
Somewhere along the line, Mehmet’s family swapped from making simits to making katmers, adding greatly to the happiness of the world. Outside his shop, at the end of an arcade in the modern part of the city, Mehmet displays a slogan that translates as ‘ Katmer is not a product of a pastry shop but a culture of master Zekeriya’. Zekeriya is Mehmet’s father, who these days sits at the cash register while Mehmet supervises his team of young pastry rollers and dances around the outside tables, taking orders and chatting to customers.
He’ll tell you that katmer is best consumed with tea rather than coffee (and he’ll order you a tea from the shop next door); that katmer is traditionally the first meal eaten by a bride and groom after their wedding night (to restore their energy); and that half his daily production goes to home delivery—transported by moped across Gaziantep and by mail to homesick Turks all over Europe.
I hope my recipe does him justice.