here was never any question of what we would eat for dinner. The Yildirim family has been raising sheep for as long as anyone can remember, and lamb—roasted whole in a wood-burning oven, then served chopped to bits on communal plates—is how they greet every guest. But first, the animal would have to be killed. After a late breakfast of fire-baked flatbread and fresh cheese, the shepherd, Dursun Yildirim, led the animal into the dusty courtyard outside his home. He cradled it in his arms and stroked its neck so gently that, for a moment, it seemed as if he might pet it to death. But it was a knife that actually did the job, and it wasn't long before Yildirim had sheared the animal, removed its organs, and cleaned its entrails one by one. Finally, he got to the colon. Putting one end to his lips, Yildirim blew air into the tube, so that small round pellets of waste dropped out the other end in a pile. From the sidelines, Turkey's most renowned chef observed the ritual. “Remind me not to kiss him,” he muttered. Mehmet Gürs seeks out what most chefs don't. He's found village women so accustomed to folding delicate, tortellini-like pasta called manti that their fingers move in a blur; located the baker in Gaziantep who makes baklava with pastry so thin you can read a newspaper through it; and, in this case, befriended a family living high up in the Canik mountains near the Black Sea that raises an indigenous breed of lamb Gürs thinks so good he has bought as much of the flock as he can. That day, we not only witnessed the butchering, but also watched the family's matriarch roll out a flat, layered bread that she cooked on a piece of curved iron over the fire, napped on the porch to avoid the worst of the day's heat, and later, kept the shepherd company when he and his dogs brought the flock home as the sky turned first purple, then black. And then we sat with the family and ate the lamb that, after the slaughter, had roasted in the outdoor oven all afternoon, with no more seasoning than its own skin. Despite the ample fat on it, the meat wasn't greasy—just mineral-tasting and rich.