Tulumba Pastries and The Idecik Saints

Tulumba Pastries and The Idecik Saints

It's Santa Claus. This date is also honoured at home by Filiz Penzkofer - although her Bavarian father knows other traditions than what the Turkish grandmother makes of this Christian festival.

Today grandma persuades us to go for a morning walk before breakfast. "The whole family!" she says. "Okay," says father, "but only to the bakery and back." Grandma claps her hands. "Agreed!" she calls out. While we put on our shoes, she leans against the wall and beams at us expectantly. I slip into my winter boots. It cracks. Then I feel something wet on my socks. "Ehh! I crushed a mouse," I scream hysterically. My sister screeches, "Ehh! Me too!" Mother jumps on one leg in panic. Only father, who always needs an eternity and a shoehorn until he finally has his foot in the shoe, looks at us in amazement. "Everything okay?" he asks.

Grandma plays Santa Claus

nikolaus myra 1She speaks too Bavarian for the Turkish grandma and too Prussian for the Bavarian grandfather. But she doesn't care how she talks as long as there's something to talk about. Because Filiz likes to tell stories - and they often go through the stomach.

I throw my boot off my foot. The sock that appears now is covered in brown goo - and smells like a liquor factory. Father squeaks: "Ehh! I crushed a mouse too!" - "Enough now!" calls grandma, "these aren't mice, they're top-quality German brandy chocolates!" "Brandy chocolates?" I ask. "In the shoe?" my sister asks. "Seriously?" asks my mother. Grandma looks desperate. "I thought you'd be happy!" she says. "Of course, we're happy!" I say, "but why all this?" "It's St. Nicholas today!" exclaims grandma, "I thought that's how they do it in Germany!" Father laughs: "You played Santa Claus?" - "Well, actually I didn't want to reveal that!" says grandma, "but yes, it was me!"

Apples and nuts instead of candies

A short time later we are sitting in the living room, warming our bare feet by the fireplace and drinking tea. Dad tells us about the past. "When I was a little boy," he says, "I was terrified of Santa Claus." "And what about the Krampus?" I ask. Father laughs: "I had an unspeakable horror of him that I can hardly put into words. Days before Saint Nicholas, I and Gruber Toni were out in the fields and kept an eye out for Krampus. Thank God we saw him never, but sometimes we thought we heard chains rattling in the woods, then we ran screaming home, where my mother opened the door for us, where there were fresh cookies, where it was warm and we found shelter." - "Didn't you have any German brandy chocolate in your shoe?" asks Grandma. Father shakes his head: "Santa Claus came to us personally and gave us apples and nuts."

Santa next door

Grandma brings us a big plate of sweets: tulumba tatlisi - date-shaped, pan-fried dough pieces that are soaked in syrup and taste about as sweet as a fawn look. We gratefully help ourselves, not bothered by the sticky syrup that runs down our fingers. It's quiet for a while. Only our chewing and the cracking of the wood fills the room. Father turns to grandma: "Did you know that Bishop Nicholas also came from Turkey?" - "From Türkiye?" - "To be more precise, from Myra, today's Demre." - "From Demre?" Grandma stares at father, "but that's only a few hours' drive from my home village!" - "Yes, around Idecik, there are saints cavorting!" says father dryly.

Why Santa Claus wears red and white clothes

nicholaus myra 2Grandma sips tea: "Probably that's why Santa Claus is wearing red and white clothes - they're the colours of the Turkish flag!" Father raises his eyebrows all the way up, but grandma doesn't let that deter him: "If I had known that Santa Claus comes from Turkey, I wouldn't have put German quality chocolates in my shoes, but Turkish specialties - for example this Tulumba!" Father, mother, my sister and I immediately grab the plate of sweets and eat it up like a rat. Better safe than sorry.


Not just at Christmas time: Tulumba pastries


For the dough:
250ml of water
180 grams of flour
70 g durum wheat semolina
25 g cornstarch
20 grams of butter
4 eggs
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 l sunflower oil for frying

For the syrup:
500ml of water
350 grams of sugar


Mix flour and semolina in a bowl. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan, add the sugar, butter and a pinch of salt and mix well.

Reduce the heat and add the flour and semolina mixture to the saucepan. Leave the batter on the stovetop for 10 minutes (stirring constantly to avoid burning), then transfer to a large bowl and mix in the eggs and corn starch.

Next, the tulumba are fried. To do this, heat the oil in a deep saucepan (if you have a deep fryer, you can of course fry the pastries there), fill the dough into a piping bag and press the dough strips about five centimetres long into the oil. Then take the dough pieces out of the pan again when they are golden brown - it is best to place them on kitchen paper so that the excess fat can be absorbed.

To make the syrup, the water is mixed with the sugar in a saucepan and boiled. Remove the syrup pot from the heat, dip the tulumba particles, done!

Tulumba tastes best with a nice cup of black tea.

Afiyet olsun!

Filiz Penzkofer: German-Turkish stories

feliz penzkoferFiliz Penzkofer is a modern German: she speaks too Bavarian for the Turkish grandma and too Prussian for the Bavarian grandfather. But she doesn't really care how she talks as long as there's something to talk about. Because Filiz likes to tell stories - and they often go through the stomach.

Filiz Penzkofer is not, how do you say it, organic German. The fact that she lacks the bio is due to her mother. She is Turkish. From this point of view, Filiz is the third generation: a successful example of integration that could be used effectively in Sarrazin debates. Instead of selling vegetables, Filiz studied German - and because she prefers to produce texts to children, she works, among other things, as a freelance journalist and screenwriter.

German? Turkish? Bavarian?

Your Turkish relatives don't always appreciate that. "If you could speak Turkish as well as Bavarian, you might be prime minister in Turkey now," Filiz often hears. That's why she thinks her Turkish relatives don't really know what Bavarian means. Because if she wants to speak Bavarian to please her German grandfather, then the plan usually fails because of the butter? On the butter? Filiz speaks too Bavarian for her Turkish relatives and too Prussian for her grandfather. But she doesn't really care how she talks as long as there's something to talk about.

You are what you eat.

- Filiz Penzkofer

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Life | Outdoors