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Yashim Cooks Istanbul

Yashim Cooks Istanbul

By Jason Goodwin

Published 2016

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“Widow Matalya’s brow furrowed and uncreased as she made her count. She champed her toothless gums together and the hairs trembled on a large black mole on her cheek. Now and again her fingers twitched. Widow Matalya did not mind, because she was asleep.

She dreamed, as usual, about chickens. There were forty of them, leghorns and bantams, scratching about in the dust of the Anatolian village where she had been born more than seventy years ago, and the chickens in her dream were exactly the same as the chickens she had tended as a young woman, when Sipahi Matalya had ridden through her yard and sent them all squawking and flapping onto the roof of their own coop. Sipahi Matalya had taken her to Istanbul, of course, because he was only a summer sipahi, and they had shared a very happy marriage until he died; but now that her children were grown she thought very often of those forty birds. Awake, she wondered who had eaten them. Asleep, she checked that they were all safe. It was good to be young again, with all that ahead of one.