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Mar 25
Tuesday
Reviews (Eats)
Trileçe: Desserts without Borders

Baltepe's trilece, photo by Ansel Mullins

It’s hard to imagine Istanbul without its pastane windows stacked high with trays of ivory-colored flaky mille-feuille and coolers lined with row after row of chocolate-topped éclairs. And of course, the sweets scene in Istanbul would not be complete without the much-loved profiterole.Generations of İstanbullu have taken pleasure in these French exotics, but at some point they became part of the local dessert canon, complete with their new Turkish ID, milföy and ekler. Their origins, their journey to Istanbul, if still relevant, have been more or less wiped clean from the memory of the city.

But right now, a new dessert craze is gripping this city: trileçe (pronounced tree-le-che). Trileçe’s heritage is a lot more complicated than that of the éclair. Chasing down the elusive origins of this cake – a Balkan cousin of the Latin American classic tres leches – leads to a deep, dark, global rabbit hole. According to the blog of the James Beard Foundation, “The history of tres leches is ambiguous.” The writer points out that it is common throughout Latin America and probably has its origins in Nicaragua, Mexico or Guatemala. It is also posited that the recipe is a creation of the producers of its key ingredient, canned milk. In the 1940s Nestle printed this cake’s recipe right there on cans of its condensed milk, just as Jose Cuervo does for its “perfect margarita.” But the Cuervo folks didn’t invent the margarita, did they?

Read the rest of this story at Culinary Backstreets.

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One Response to “ Trileçe: Desserts without Borders ”
  1. Joan Kafri

    Apr 9, 2014
    Reply

    Is Haci Baba Restaurant in Istanbul still open? I’ve been hearing rumors that it has closed. Thanks.


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