The first time I saw lokma I was walking along the seaside promenade that runs the length of İzmir. It was my first weekend in İzmir and I looking for a place to get brunch. When I first spotted the golden donuts, dripping in syrup, my grumbling stomach shot signals to my brain that made my mouth water.
A couple strolled by me carrying a small foam plate full of the fried treat. Then another. And another. Everywhere I looked people were munching on this delicious-looking mystery dessert!
Like a hungry Gretel, I followed the trail and sure enough, happened upon a small tent with a line of patrons. I queued up, looking around for a price list or a menu. There was none, and when I asked,''Ne kadar?'' the vendor rattled off a bit of Turkish, shoved a plateful of the good stuff into my hand, and shooed me out of the way.
I'm not one to argue with free donuts, so I perched myself on the bench-topped wall that separates city from sea and dug in! The lokma was light and fluffy, with the slightest crisp of a shell. The syrup was like thin honey, and just as sticky!
I learned later that it's tradition in İzmir to give away lokma when a loved one dies. In exchange, recipients send prayers and well wishes for the souls of the deceased, and their mourning families.
So next time you're in Turkey, keep an eye out for lokma stands. Thank the vendor, lick the syrup from your fingers, and remember to send a kind thought or two into the ether.