On Friday, I posted a recipe for Turkish Leeks and Carrots from Dana Jacobi, author of the 12 Best Foods Cookbook and a contributor to the American Institute for Cancer Research’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life

Jacobi, who lives in New York City, frequents a favorite restaurant whose chef, Orhan, has taught her a great deal about Turkish cooking. You may be surprised to learn that chefs are often delighted to talk to you about their cuisine. They are flattered you’ve asked about their craft and, depending on how busy the restaurant is, will wax poetic about techniques and ingredients. 

Orhan has told Jacobi what most organic foodies already know: “Always buy the best ingredients.” For Friday’s recipe, this means “selecting leeks no fatter than your thumb; eggplants that feel hefty for their size, with skin as smooth and shiny as a polished table; and dried beans that look plump, never wrinkled, discolored or split,” Jacobi says. “For the carrots, Orhan has taught me that the bigger and fatter, the sweeter they are.” 

Orhan’s second rule: “To perfect the balance of flavors in a dish, then let it alone,” Jacobi says. “To him, the freshness, spices and flavorful simplicity of Turkish food are meant to please consistently, not to be a platform for creative cooking.” 

Turks cook white rice with vegetables, Jacobi notes, but she prefers using brown rice. 

“Since it cooks more slowly, I add it to the dish already cooked,” she says.