Sunday, December 12, 2010

Part two of 'Turkey: so epic there are two parts'

Haven't read Part one?

After one day of the pretzel-and-lemonade diet, I was determined not to miss out on all the glorious food that Istanbul had to offer. So on day four, I put my game face on and promptly marched to one of the numerous establishments selling every type of baklava and sweet pastry imaginable.

Heaven, I was in Turkish sweet heaven. Filo pastry, soaked in sweet syrup, flaky, crunchy, layer upon syrup-soaked layer, pistachio, walnut, almond, orange, rose-water. The flavours together are so fragrant and so pleasing to so many senses. The crunch of each bite – hear it and feel it; the smell and taste of citrus-infused syrup; the sight of bright green pistachio. We were also fortunate enough to have the shop owner offer us some floss-halva as we were polished off our baklava and washed it all down with some deliciously-sweet Turkish green tea. Perfect!

So, as with most illnesses we recovered. Thank the LORD for that! We got down to the biznass of eating pretty darn quickly. To make up for being sick on his birthday, Mr von S and I decided to follow some advice from the Lonely Liar (a.k.a. Planet) and head to a restaurant over the bridge from where we were staying in Sultanamet. Well, this was one time when the Liar wasn't!

Sofyali9 in Tunel was a great suggestion. We had a variety of mezze – small shared dishes – and more Turkish bread than even I could eat - and I freakin' love bread. We tried the hummus (finally, a win!) haydari (tzatziki without cucumber) a paprika/feta dish and giant white beans. All delicious and surprisingly affordable. We also snuck in a mini cheese borek (more flaky pastry!) because we could.

So, I mentioned Turkish breakfast before. Breakfast, just by-the-by, is one of my favourite meals – the other being dessert. As I like to say, the first and last meals of every day. I'm always pretty excited when breakfast is included in the cost of accommodation. Well after three weeks of eating the same thing over and over again, I was OVER it #firstworldproblems much? Try this for monotony: bread roll (although plus point for being freshly-baked every day) a boiled egg, cucumber, tomato, cheese and olives. Sometimes there would be honey, sometimes there was a weird, overly-processed reddish circular meat (surprisingly tasty – hey, I'll try anything once, don't judge). All in all, I don't really like to eat vegetables for breakfast unless there is bacon involved.

Since I've spoken about breakfast, how about I talk about lunch now? And since we're talking about lunch, we should probably also talk dinner, considering there is no difference in the offering (well, at least in Turkey!) After considering entrees (um, lentil soup or hummus? Both are good in my books!) it's time to think about mains.

Do I want:

a) - a chicken (tavuk) doner kebap (don't stress people, it's a kebab, just spelled differently!)
b) - a beef (adana) doner kebap
c) - a) or b) but in flat bread a.k.a. doner durum
d) kofte – which is actually b) but rolled into balls or fingers
e) shish kebap - not actually a kebab, but the same meat as b) or d) only on a plate
f) a pide (Turkey's answer to pizza apparently) usually contains the same meat as e)

Repeat these choices twice a day for 18 days (that's 36 times!), and do ya see why I would prefer the potato and potato and bread and potato choices available in Germany?

Of course, the silver lining to this thunder storm was the bread. Bread, oh delightful Turkish baked-every-day-twice-a-day bread. Bread that can be bought when stuck in traffic on the highway, when waiting in line to see the Blue Mosque; bread that is served at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Enough said.

Before I wrap up this absolute epic of a post, I must make one more mention of a couple of sweeties (whenever I say that word, in my head it comes out in a creepy old lady voice 'would you like a sweetie deary?' Mum, do you have any insight on that one?) I experienced while in Turkey.

Firstly, you didn't think I could do a post on Turkey without mentioning Turkish delight, right? Of course, the stuff is available en masse in Istanbul (although not really anywhere else...hmm, tourist trap anyone?) and we chose to procure our sample from the Spice Market. We chose, well, actually, the guy who (swindled us out of our money) sold us the 'delight chose a selection of the stuff sweetened with honey, rather than sugar. It was a much more subtle taste, and the majority of our selection was opaque in colour, pinks, whites, greens, all riddled with pistachios and a majority covered in coconut. Nary a one covered in chocolate like the Turkish Delight bars at home. The first 20 were delish, after that, I never wanted to see another Turkish delight again.

Revani - pic from stu_spivack

The other sweet was a delightful semolina-based cake/slice called revani. Sadly, I was only able to sample revani once, despite my best efforts. I've mentioned texture before in this blog, and revani is a great example of how texture can really enhance a food-related experience for me. Rather than being light and fluffy like a flour-based cake, revani is dense and reminds me more of a gluten-free cake. Add to this that revani is soaked in syrup (thank you Turkey for soaking your sweets in syrup!) and it's sensory overload – the texture, taste and smell of the oft-citrus infused syrup (as mine was) it was almost like my kind of food heroin. Probably a good thing I only found it once. Bad news, there are recipes on the interwebz.

The funny thing is, despite being completely over Turkish food by the time we left, once we arrived in Berlin, I was craving kebabs and hummus like a fiend.

Having given myself this trip down food-memory lane, I see now that I really had taken Turkish food for granted. I love the fact that now, even while in Berlin, I have access to a fantastic Turkish fresh-food market, where I can buy hummus and fresh flat bread, goezleme (which I didn't actually eat in Turkey, crazy!) and baklava every week. It's the fact that it's not every day that I can eat hummus and haydari that really makes me appreciate it, and proves not one, but two of those old clich├ęd sayings (sorry to get all preachy in yo' faces, but!)

everything in moderation


variety is the spice of life.

Xx Fif signing out.

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