February 13th, 2007  | Category: Cakes, Memoir/Meme/Misc.

Plane Picture this… San Francisco… Nineteen ninety eight…

On a foggy Fall morning, a Turkish guy landed at The San Francisco International Airport.

Sleepless from a 14-hour flight and stressed by the unpleasant wait of his student visa, which arrived 10 hours prior to his flight, his exhausted body and soul needed nothing but rest.

He hailed a cab, told the address and off he started watching the city he will be living in for a long time.

After a 40-minute ride through the foggiest and most depressing parts of the town, the cab stopped at the pavement of a small motel in the Richmond district, across from a deli with an annoying bell.

Geary Parkway Motel

A note attached to the management office door reading “Will be back in 30” was only the first sign of a series of tragic events.

He stacked his luggages upon one another, perched on top and started watching people passing by.

Then, a 6 feet tall woman with a cat the size of an overfed pig in her lap appeared by his side. A cigarette was reeking from the corner of her mouth; the smoke making her eyebrows frown, drawing attention to the non-existent grooming history. Her contrastingly feminine fingers snatched a key to the room closest to the street (and the deli’s bell).

Soon, he was lying on a turquoise polyester blanket, trying to gather the energy he needed to go on. After a quick rest, he got up, grabbed his backpack and crammed in a folder with necessary paperwork. He was clueless as to where his school was. All he knew was that this motel was the closest. He stopped by the management office to ask for direction.

There she was, this time on a sofa with her pig cat, watching a show, in which people were constantly yelling and throwing chairs at each other. She slowly got up and threw a why-the-hell-are-you-interrupting-my-show-you-dumbass look. Instead of answering his question, she pulled a sheet from the drawer and circled the school and the motel. With a poorly sketched map in his hand, he started walking towards the school.

That woman was the manager of the Geary Parkway Motel and that Turkish guy was me.

(Geary Parkway Motel photo above courtesy of Rebecca R. & James H.)

This is how my first day in San Francisco started. Aside from registration, I was already behind schedule because of the delay in the visa process, so I needed to start looking for a decent place asap. After registration, a quick tour of the school and shopping for textbooks, I was on the road again, this time carrying a pile of textbooks in my backpack. Before returning to the motel, I needed to stop by the bank to open an account. This detour was going to cost me big time…

Now, a side note here: When it comes to reading maps, finding an address, or simply put “direction”, I am worse than a lab rat. I can write a white paper on broadband signal processor chips, bake eclairs shaped like swans or lose 40 pounds in a single month, but I can barely find my car in a garage.

Long story short, I was lost. After an exhausting hour of mindless walk, I gave up on the trashy map and decided to ask someone for the direction. The first person I dared to ask turned out to be deaf and mute. Then, I gave up on finding the motel all together and went into the first restaurant I spotted. Another mistake…

Geary Parkway Motel Neon sign - photo by Patrick BouryTwo hours after an extremely greasy burger and soggy onion rings, I could finally see the neon sign of the motel lighting up the street corner. I was so happy that I wanted to throw everything on the ground and start kissing the homeless guy who passed out next to the garbage can.

(Geary Parkway Motel neon sign photo courtesy of Patrick Boury.)

Oh how much I missed that polyester blanket… I took a quick shower, threw myself on the bed and turned the TV on. And there they were… Four familiar faces, gathered around a table in their kitchen, listening to the story the eldest was telling. I knew these women. Some 10 years ago, when I used to spend most of my time under the dinner table watching TV, this was one of the shows I looked forward to.

The Golden Girls - Dorothy Sophia Rose Blanche

Thousands of miles away from friends and family, everything felt unfamiliar. I was exhausted. But, watching these women comforted me. I forgot about my aching feet & hurting back and slowly went into sleep – the show’s tune slowly fading in my ears… Thank you for being a frieeeeeeeeenndddd… Little did I know that in a very short period of time, I was going to meet/unite with 3 very close friends of mine.

The Golden Girls

From that day on, The Golden Girls became an obsession for me. The “real thing” was much better. I could then see that a lot of the jokes were lost in translation. How can you imagine The Golden Girls without Blanche’s southern accent? And how can you expect government’s TV station to fully translate her sexual escapades that dominate pretty much every episode? I started watching the show religiously: 6 times a day (thanks to Lifetime TV) every single day for two years and 4 times a day everyday for another three years (missed mornings on work days) almost without fail. That roughly translates to 7000 episodes (and now that I think of it, it constitutes 145 days of my pre-GoldenGirlsonDVD life).

Sophia and Dorothy as Cher and Bono

Trying to catch all the episodes in a day became quite tiresome after a while. It was then I started thinking why the studio would not release the show in DVD. A quick research brought me to a website prepared by the fans, which had an online petition form to Buena Vista Home Entertainment, urging them to release the show in DVD. God knows how many times I signed that petition with all the fake names I can come up with. Unfortunately, when the time came to move back to my country, the show was still not released in DVD. So I started recording the show in VHS casettes… Nine 8-hour-VHS casettes were packed neatly between cashmere sweaters in my luggage on my way back home.

The Golden Girls

A month after school started, I was dragged to an MBA mixer. People were chatting loudly, music was boring and I was dreaming of my bed. Then, someone introduced me to this charming and voluptuous girl. It turned out that we had a friend in common from Turkey and we started chatting. She was very warm and funny and shared my sarcastic sense of humour – and turned out to be a die-hard fan of The Golden Girls, too. Since that day, we had become very close friends. We even had the chance to work side by side at the same company. To this day, she is the only person with whom I enjoy watching the girls together.

Next on the list was a very close friend of mine from college, who moved to San Jose a couple of months after my move. It was an hour’s drive, but I was so happy. We were finally united.

Then, the biggest surprise of all. I went back to Turkey for my summer vacation and bumped into a very close friend of mine. After many years in high school, our paths were separated when I moved to a different city for college. But we never lost contact. By pure coincidence, she told me that she was considering the very same school I was attending in San Francisco. Six months later, we were lying on a bed in our temporary apartment laughing hysterically at the tragicomic events, which happened that day while hunting for rentals.

Another coincidence is that we all were born in February – on (almost) consecutive days.

It has been almost 5 years since I moved back to Turkey. I am sitting in front of my laptop in Istanbul, writing a post for my food blog Cafe Fernando, which is named after Rose’s one-eyed teddy bear – far away from these close friends of mine. One of them is still living in San Francisco, one moved back to Turkey but to a different city and the other far far away in Costa Rica, managing her own organic vegetarian cafe in Montezuma (so proud honey).


This year we are all apart on our birthdays. But here is Vanskapkaka to unite us all. One of Rose’s Scandinavian concoctions.

Rose... Simple, stupid Rose...

For me, possibly the shows most funniest moments revolve around Rose’s St. Olaf language.

For instance, kaknockedupassphingel translates to “a pregnant girl”, gerkakenaken is a word used to describe the exact moment when dog feces turn white and vorfluganockin is a seaman docking at the wrong Fjord.

Knowing that these words were fruits of creative thinking and kick-ass screenplay writing, I assumed vanskapkaka meant a friendship cake only in Rose’s imaginary St. Olaf language. Then I searched the web to see if there is anyone out there who tried to come up with a recipe for this imaginary cake. The search results shocked me! Out of all these imaginary words, vanskapkaka was the only real one. The original word is Vennskapskake, and it is in fact a traditional Amish friendship cake. The recipe begins with a starter, which takes a shocking 9 days, at the end of which you divide the batter into three and share the two parts with friends so that they can carry on with the rest of the recipe. The whole thing takes 10 days to complete. 10 D-A-Y-S!!! There is even a 30-day version.

Of course, the second I saw the number “10”, I gave up. Now, I love all my friends dearly – and especially these three – but stirring a batter every day for nine days, waiting for it to come together and finishing the whole thing in 240 hours is far beyond my patience.

So, I came up with my own Vanskapkaka recipe. There was no visual inspiration, as the cake was in a gift box in that particular episode. All I had was how Rose described the cake.

According to Rose, Vanskapkaka is a St. Olaf friendship cake. It is made with milk, sugar, honey, a whole lot of love and just a drop of sunshine! So, with that, here is what I came up with:




  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 large eggs (drops of sunshine!)
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract



  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F (190 C). Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch spring-form cake pan and line with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, mash the bananas thoroughly. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in another bowl.
  3. In the mixing bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat softened butter for 5 minutes, add brown sugar and beat together until fluffy.
  4. Add the honey and beat for another 2 minutes. Add eggs one by one, scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
  5. Add vanilla extract and beat until blended.
  6. Mix in half of the dry ingredients, then the mashed bananas and milk, followed by the rest of the dry ingredients.
  7. Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 35 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean.
  8. Transfer the cake pan to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Never miss a recipe. Subscribe via email.


  1. 1 - ozlem on February 14th, 2007

    Cenk, this came like a shot of energy as I am sick today laying in bed. It made me both laugh and cry, and think of so many memories we have together; the museum in LA, Feride, duck face, sushi north beach, Sterling, Thanks so much. I LOVE you and I hope to see you soon. Arpaci

  2. 2 - B5 on February 14th, 2007

    Why don´t you try to write your memories? This is one of the most beautiful description of a Friendship…
    Hope you´ll always be with your friends..

    ps: If you still want, we can help you to get the Golden Girls- DVDs. In France, Italy, Germany everywhere you can find them… So we can send you.

  3. 3 - Cenk on February 14th, 2007

    Ozlem – Get well soon. I love you too baby. Lets do that GG marathon next time you are here.

    B5 – Thank you for the nice comment! It is also very nice of you to ask, but I now have all the seasons in DVD. I guess that petition paid off 🙂

  4. 4 - sam on February 18th, 2007

    that was a truly beautiful and moving post.
    I don’t know if I could bear it if I had to leave san francisco.

  5. 5 - Cenk on February 18th, 2007

    Thank you Sam. It was quite hard to leave SF. To be honest, I could not have survived it without my friends and family here in Turkey…

  6. 6 - Sarah on February 20th, 2007

    I’ve been reading your blog since I got back to Minnesota from my first trip to Istanbul and Bodrum last September. (Thanks – it’s great.)

    I’m not sure how to say this, but it’s not really a joke. Women like Rose still live here. But she was from the more cosmopolitan southern half of the state, it’s worse up North. Yah, sure, you betcha.


  7. 7 - Cenk on February 20th, 2007

    Hi Sarah – Interesting information.. So is it in the water?

  8. 8 - Sarah on February 21st, 2007

    Could be, there’s lots of it. Minnesota’s official motto is “Land of 10,000 Lakes” and we have the headwaters of the Mississippi. I’d guess weak coffee though. That’s very common among the Scandanavian decendants here, drinking it day and night. Maybe they never get any sleep?

  9. 9 - keiko on February 28th, 2007

    Thank you so much for sharing your lovely story, Cenk – it’s nice to know a little bit more about you here in your beautiful blog 🙂

  10. 10 - Cenk on February 28th, 2007

    Thank you Keiko. Great to hear you liked the post!

  11. 11 - Ms. Natasha on March 14th, 2007

    I saw the episode where Rose says “gerkakenaken” over ten years ago and remember laughing out loud! I’ve been trying to find that term ever since and finally did a series of Google searches that led me to this wonderful blog.

    Thank you for the wonderful story and the gorgeous recipe. I will try it out for sure!

  12. 12 - Edos on March 23rd, 2007


    Türkce’yi hala okuyup anladiginizi düsünerek anadilim(iz)de yaziyorum.

    Bircok blogun takipcisi olmama ragmen, kendi blogumu acmakta tereddüt ediyorum, cünkü ayni dert bende de olacak, Ingilizce yazsam Türklere haksizlik, Türkce yazsam Alman arkadaslarim anlamayacak, Almanca yazsam..neyse iste.

    Cok güzel yazilariniz var, ve eger önceden bilmeyip de (ki olamaz ya) San Francisco’da ögrendiyseniz Ingilince’yi, takdir ettim.

    Alinmak yok ama, bu güzel yazilarin icinde, pek cok Türk’ün yaptigi ortak bir hataya sizin de düstügünüzü görüp, uyarmak istedim.

    (to) lose = kaybetmek, yitirmek
    loose = gevsek
    (to) loosen = gevsetmek

    Yani siz “..loose 40 pounds..” derken, sanirim bunlardan ilki olan “to lose” eylemini kastederek söylüyorsunuz, oysa ki ortaya cikan anlam 40 pound gevsetmek gibi oluyor hatta o bile olamiyor. “to lose” daki lose ile, “loose” sifati bütünüyle ayni okunmalarina karsin, böyle tamamen farkli iki anlam iceriyor.
    Bu hatayi o kadar cogumuz yapiyor ki, söylemeden gecemedim. Umarim anlatabilmisimdir.

    Blogunuz (ve sizin) basarilarin(iz)in devami dilegiyle..

    ps. Altin Kizlar diyerek yüregime dokundunuz bilmeden..o kadar severdim ki bu diziyi! Sahiden DVD’si cikiyorsa ilk alacaklardan biri benim!! Ya da coktan cikti bile mi yoksa? 🙂

  13. 13 - Cenk on March 23rd, 2007

    Yorumunuz için çok teşekkürler. Spelling check için de 🙂 Alınmak ne demek tam tersi sayesinizde düzeltme şansım oldu.
    Hangi dilde blog konusuna gelince… Bir süre geçtikten sonra blogumu Türkçe’ye çevirmeye başladım ama fark ettim ki çok zorlanıyorum. Türkçe ne yazsam komik geliyo okuyunca.. Ondan sonra vazgeçtim yarım yamalak çevrilmiş halde duruyor öyle.
    Size tavsiyem hangi dilde en rahat ediyorsanız o dilde yazmanız.
    Altın Kızlara gelince… 7 sezonun hepsi de Amazon’da satışta! Benim yan kolondaki Amazon storeuma tıklarsanız tüm sezonların linklerini bulabilirsiniz.

  14. 14 - Edos on March 24th, 2007

    Ooo! Yasasin! 🙂 Altin Kizlaaarrrr!!!

    Yardimci olabildigime sevindim, ben simdilik (yani elimden geldigince-bazi seyler örnegin bir siir koymak istesem ceviri becerim yetismeyebilir cünkü) her üc dilde de yazilar ekleyecegim bloguma, dediginiz gibi zorlandikca belki bunlardan birini ya da ikisini birakirim 😉

    Amazon’da üyeligim de vardi zaten…amanin cok sevindim buna! 😀 Tesekkürler, tesekkürler, tesekkürler…


  15. 15 - tove on May 21st, 2007

    Vanskapskaka or vänskapskaka (swedish) is not only something amish but it’s also a pretty common thing in Sweden. Our vänskapskaka can’t be bought or made for yourself, it has to be given to you as a gift for you to be able to enjoy it :). It’s a nice concept but I feel bad for those that has no friends. Anyway, vänskapskaka is in sweden also known as “Herman” or “Vänskapsbrödet Herman”.

  16. 16 - Lisa on December 28th, 2007

    Great post! I love the Golden Girls, too. I always feel “homey” when I watch that show — it’s so comforting somehow. I had great laughs just looking at all the wonderful photos. Thank you!

  17. 17 - daniesza on January 9th, 2008

    what a wonderful writer you are

  18. 18 - vladimir on February 11th, 2008

    love the golden girls….they make me warm and fuzzy inside. I’d love a vanskapkaka right about now too:)

  19. 19 - Allen on February 27th, 2008

    Oh my god — I didn’t know anyone else loved the Golden Girls as much as I do. I grew up watching it and found it hilarious, somehow comforting. It’s only in this last year that I stumbled upon the re-runs on Lifetime and have fallen in love with it all over again. So glad to hear I’m not alone 🙂

    Rose would be proud of your Vanskapkaka!

  20. 20 - A. on May 4th, 2008

    You are an amazing man…

  21. 21 - cindym on July 2nd, 2008

    what a great post. and what a shock to click on the picture of Rose on your home page, and find an essay with a giant picture of the old, familiar Geary Parkway Motel…it’s right near my current apartment in San Francisco. you are brave …i’ve always wondered about that place!

  22. 22 - The Top Ten Reasons I Have (Temporarily) Lost Interest In Food Blogging | Fine Furious Life on July 29th, 2008

    […] Serious Golden Girls […]

  23. 23 - Seraphina Atemasov on April 26th, 2009

    Really loved this story, Cenk. We moved to Moscow from San Francisco almost two years ago and this fed my homesick heart.

    But, I’m curious – which O is which in your story? I think O.O. was the one you knew in high school, maybe?

    Flying to your city on Friday…can’t wait!


  24. 24 - Cenk on April 27th, 2009

    Seraphina – Hello! I tried to reach you via email but all my emails bounced back. Will try again. OO is the one I know from high school 🙂

  25. 25 - sarah jane on May 28th, 2009

    haha i love the golden girls and i love you take on Rose’s recipe! well done, you have made my day!

  26. 26 - amanda Gilliland on September 4th, 2009

    what do I think about the golden girls, I just
    love to watch them everyday from 8:00am to
    12:00pm. The two people I miss is estelle Getty and beatrice arthur. It’s a shame that they
    both passed away. But I can’t enough of the reruns on tv. They know how to make laugh at
    everyday things in life. When it first came on
    in the late 80’s or early 90’s I couldn’t stop
    watching the show. My favorite episode was when
    they all came down with the flu at the same time.
    I think back in the 1990’s when that show aired,
    I was actually sick with the flu. And when Betty
    white/Rose when she said the best remedy for the
    flu is chicken soup. That was my favorite episode.And one that I saw a few days ago is where Blanch Devaroe hand cuffs herself to a water heater inside this old mansion. I can never get enough of the reruns.
    From a fan


  27. 27 - Katelynn Hopkins on October 23rd, 2009

    I love the golden girls i hope they keep showing it on telivison

  28. 28 - Graeme Meldrum on December 29th, 2009

    I have had many happy moments watching the Golden Girls nothing has or ever will rival these episodes I only wish they could have goten togehter one last time to do it all over agian for us my favorite was the last show when Bea got married to lesley Nielson unforgetable laughter and a very emotional serious ending … Rose Nyland I love you and blanche I have a little of you in me too. Well done show writers please try and start anothe r one of these series they were wonderful Shirley mcclane would be a great Dorothy.

    Thankyou again guys

    Graeme your biggest Aussie fan …. Point Cook Melbourne Australia …

  29. 29 - robinwiergacz on March 15th, 2010

    i cant stand the golden girls but I love this web site!

  30. 30 - Erica on August 11th, 2010

    I am comforted by watching the Golden Girls too! I just couldn’t articulate until I read your blog.

    When I’m down, I have it on all day long. I was never quite sure why I always popped in the DVD during those times.

    I was trying to see if “videnfleurgen, or however it’s spelled, was a real word. It’s from the episode where Blanch and Rose think that she’s lost Blanche’s earrings and wants to make it up to her by doing things for her.

  31. 31 - onur e on December 19th, 2010

    i loved how you put your story and how much you praised your friends. you sound like a die-hard friend. i hope to meet you one day and taste one of your marvelous brownies.

  32. 32 - Aisha on January 5th, 2014

    You are an amazing person Cenk. That’s the only comment I come up with.

    (oh and:


Leave a Comment