Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Jelabies, Çelebis - Sweet

When I lived in Nepal, I studied thangka painting for some time. After class, I'd walk to the bazaar with some of the other thangka painters and we'd have tea and a snack. I usually had plain, black tea and Jelabis (pronounced "che-lay-bees").

Jelabies are small, saffron coloured pastries drizzled from a pastry tube, cooked in ghee and soaked in sugar syrup. Sound sweet? They are!

I rarely ate desserts the years I lived in Nepal, but I will never forget visits to the tea stalls, sharing a plate of Jelabies with my painter friends. Honey bees swarmed the dessert cases and landed in droves. They walked drunkenly on giant mounds of Jelabies, warmed by the late morning sun shining through the glass on the dessert case.

Out in the street in front of the sweet shop, young boys stood and stirred huge vats of milk tea. From time to time they'd fill a glass with tea and pour it in a magical arc from that glass to another, aerating the tea, making it thick and frothy.

Jelabies were my favorite sweet, all those years. Now I am thinking to follow a route created by a man named Çelebis.
...Seems delicious, seems sweet.

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