It's Thanksgiving Day and Josh Katzen finds himself just off the coast of Turkey aboard the Diogenes, the converted minesweeper used as a dive platform for underwater archaeology. All is not well in the kitchen because the Turkish cook couldn't find pecans for the pecan pie. Trying to escape the volatile kitchen atmosphere, Josh hitches a ride into the city of Bodrum in search of a peaceful breakfast -- and maybe a few nuts. As usual, nothing goes quite according to plan. A holiday short story.
“Walnuts! Wal-nuts?” Dr. Dora Hardin’s yelp pierced bulkheads and Josh Katzen’s not-quite-awake-yet fog, making him pause in his quest for life-giving coffee. He wavered, attempting to kickstart his brain. There was something…some reason he might not want to brave the galley today…. Oh yeah. It was Thanksgiving Day. They were preparing dinner for thirty in there.
From within, he heard the ship’s cook, Musa Koşay’s quieter voice. “My apologies, Dr. Hardin. I looked for pecans. I looked all over the souk—all over Bodrum, but there were none to be had. The walnuts are very fine—”
This had the potential for serious ugly. Maybe he didn’t really… All attempts at retreat were foiled as a fresh burst of coffee aroma wafted through, ensnaring him.
“But I need pecans,” Dora wailed. “How am I supposed to make Mother Dora’s Famous Pecan Pie without PECANS?”
The waftaroms from the coffeemaker pulled him into the galley against his conscious will. Okay, he thought, slip in. Grab the coffee and be gone like the wind.
Clay Belderes looked up from a critical examination of the large, spice-smeared turkey in a roasting pan resting on the galley prep table. “Josh! I’m glad you’re up. Take a look at this bird and see what you think. I’m not sure there’s enough for all of us. Even with most of the students gone, there’s still a bunch of us and people from shore, besides.”
Musa broke off his discussion with Dr. Hardin to put the lid on the roaster with a final clang. “Please, Dr. Belderes, it must remain covered for the spices to infuse the meat. You are the archaeologist. I am the cook. Let me cook!” He had the sound of a man who had been over this ground before and wasn’t happy to be covering it again as he added, “There are also chickens and many other dishes—but the turkey would, indeed, stretch much farther if you would allow me to prepare Patatesli Hindi Yahnisi—”
“Nope! No stew. Has to be roasted turkey,” Belderes said with finality. “Roasted turkey today, stew tomorrow. It’s tradition!”
“And so is pecan pie!” Dora said. “Josh, I understand you’re quite a cook, yourself. Have you ever heard of making a pecan pie with walnuts?”
He knew it was taking his life in his own hands, but he couldn’t stop himself. “Well, no. Then it would be a walnut pie.”