Last of the Milkmen: Fehmi Özsüt’s Kaymak, from Buffalo to Table
Charming and surprising, Fehmi Özsüt has an easy, no-worries smile that belies a life full of unbelievable stories and intense work. Every day, even on weekends, he wakes up at 3 a.m. in order to run his kaymak business. A quivery clotted cream made from water buffalo milk, kaymak is served with honey and bread for a rich and filling breakfast. Since 1915, Özsüt’s family of Albanian immigrants has run the Karaköy Özsüt muhallebici, or milk pudding shop. Now he is carrying the torch and managing a small water buffalo farm to supply the main ingredient for the shop’s traditional desserts.
Back when Özsüt’s grandfather started his kaymak business, water buffaloes were raised in the forests around Istanbul. The animals flourished in the shade of those trees, and shepherds didn’t need to buy feed for the animals. Each muhallebeci would buy fresh milk from nearby producers to make its yogurt, kaymak and desserts. Now, the few small forests left around Istanbul are for recreation.
Read the rest of this feature at Culinary Backstreets.
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