Ilke McAliley

WFAEats Contributor

Ilke McAliley is from the bustling metropolitan city of Istanbul, Turkey. She moved to Clemson, SC in 2000 for graduate study in environmental engineering. What started as a one year student exchange program turned into a family, long term residency in the US, and in 2010, US citizenship. She currently lives in Rock Hill, SC with her husband Jay and their stubborn dog, Tarchin. Ilke works full-time as an environmental engineer for a consulting company in Charlotte. In her spare time, she volunteers for Water For People, reads, pretends to garden but actually kills the plants, cooks, and writes about her kitchen adventures on her blog, Ilke’s Kitchen.

Ilke was raised in a big and loud family, and is very thankful for her mom and her grandmother for teaching her the healing power of good food and good company. She started her blog as a tribute and dedication to her grandmother, Emine, who has been cooking from memory for years and never written down her recipes! Ilke’s Kitchen is an attempt to compile these family treasures as well as to create her own.

Ilke loves living in the South, the warm weather, the people, and bluegrass music, but still cannot eat grits.

Favorite Midnight snack: Spoonfuls of Nutella right out of the jar.

Thing I’ve tried once and will NEVER eat again: SNAIL!!  Even thinking about them floating in butter sauce makes me cringe.

Food you hated as a kid but love today: Eggplant. Hated the taste and the smell… Now I cook it almost every week.

Kitchen tools you can’t live without: A rubber spatula, small cheese grater and hand-held blender.

Cookbooks that gets the most use: The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, How to Cook Everything, One Big Table, and the recipe collection I brought back from Turkey when I moved here.

Ilke McAliley

Turkish food is addictive. Once you have tried authentic Turkish pilav, kebab, or borek—whether back in your grandma’s kitchen or in a hole-in-the-wall restaurant during your travels—there is no turning back. You keep searching for recipes, trying every restaurant that has a Mediterranean ring to it, or make plans to go back again. You can not get enough of it.

Ilke McAliley

I got off the tram with my mom and another thirty people at the Eminonu stop and was pushed right in the middle of a sea of busy, impatient Istanbulians.  I stopped for a while to get my bearings, and then we headed towards YeniCami (New Mosque).