The Erik(calla lilies) are in Bloom Again…

The erik (a small, green, tart Turkish plum) are in bloom again…it’s that time of year. But this year their arrival is bittersweet. I feel like Katharine Hepburn’s character in Stage Door. “Now I place them here in memory of some[one] who has died…I’ve learned something about love that I never knew before…help should come to people when they need it…” And, thanks to my father-in-law, Oktay Ergunay, who for years until his retirement served as the Turkish government Director of Disaster Affairs and also the General Director of Turkish Red Crescent, help came to countless who suffered under the rubble and rebuild of earthquakes, who were left homeless from floods and landslides and every sort of natural disaster in Turkey, and who suffered neighboring regimes and migrated to Turkey with nothing but the clothes on their backs, children in their arms, and the hope of a better life. Baba devoted his life to loving and serving people through his scholarly earthquake engineering research and teaching, his smart and strategic disaster management, and his huge heart – steadfast in his insistence that every life is worth living, every life is worth saving.

And my father-in-law had a thing for green fruit – kiwi, green apples, and these tart little green plums. This spring, quite unexpectedly, he left this world, much to the devastation of my husband, my mother-in-law, my brother-in-law, our uncle, aunt, cousin, and all the family, friends, and colleagues who dearly loved him. And he left me with an entire climate-controlled refrigerator fruit drawer of erik that had been awaiting his summertime arrival.

I miss him terribly – his voice, his humor, his fatherly reassurance, the boundless love he had for his granddaughter – and start crying (again) when I see these things sitting in my fridge. And here’s the irony: I’m not exactly nuts about these plums. So what do you do when life tosses you erik? Maybe…erik salatasi? This will be the first of hopefully a handful of creative culinary #erikendeavors to help me keep my chin up. Will let you know when I come up with more…

iyi geceler, Baba.  (…iyi geceler, canIm.)


  • ~15-20 grape tomatoes
  • ~2-3 mini cucumbers
  • ~15-20 erik
  • ~12 Turkish olives
  • 1 fistful of Italian flat-leaf parsely
  • 1 tbpsn fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbspn olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  • dash of apple cider vinegar


  1. slice both tomatoes and plums in half (erik have pits, slicing will be imprecise, so my workaround was to munch on the middles while I made the salad)
  2. slice mini cucumbers in rounds
  3. coarsely-chop parsley
  4. toss ingredients with olives
  5. in a small ramekin, whisk lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and salt; add to salad
  6. toss and serve

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