So, Turkey. I almost feel overwhelmed by the culinary memories that sing out from my mind when I think of the place. We spent a good two, nearly three weeks exploring the amazing natural beauty of this unique country, however when the time came to catch our no-name airline-carrier flight to Berlin, I couldn't get out of there fast enough.
You see, I think I built up the food in Turkey in my mind way too much, and in doing so, managed to ruin the experience for myself. Those nights I went to sleep in Bulgaria (did you notice Bulgaria is yet to be mentioned yet? Yeh, there's a reason) dreaming of amazing middle-eastern food such as I had experienced at Maha in Melbourne's CBD and Kanzaman on Bridge Rd in Richmond (both definitely worth checking out!) and even the little Turkish guy in the Foundry on Little Collins Street who does pide, two dips and salad for AU7.00. Um, where was I? That's right, lost in dreams of Turkish food yet again.
Even after being in Turkey, it's not the authentic stuff I dream about, it's the Anglicised versions, the stuff that has made its way into pop-culinary culture. I feel like I need to say three 'hail-Dorie-Greenspan's in penance for such blasphemy, but it's true.
After pondering a bit more, discussing it with Mr von S and making a list of my Turkish food experiences, I feel that perhaps I had begun taking Turkish food for granted. Because really, the food was great, don't get me wrong. It was just the monotony of eating the same thing for nearly three weeks straight. After all, we don't go out for Turkish food every single meal, every single day, for 18 days straight, now do we? Variety is the spice of life, or something.
So let's survey my list of food-related memories, shall we?
I have to say, things didn't start off too well on the food front in Turkey. It all began in Bulgaria with some dodgy KFC (we think). Mr von S was hit with a terrible case of food poisoning the day before his birthday, a day which we would be celebrating on an 14 hour bus from Sofia to Istanbul – hooray! So there we arrived in stunning Istanbul with Mr von S looking even paler than usual (sorry darling) and having eaten nothing but some pretzel sticks and lemonade for 24 hours.
I was chomping at the bit to get some of the much-lusted over Turkish food in mah belly, so dragged the sick one to a restaurant on the tourist strip for our first taste of Turkey.
I wanted hummus. We had DREAMED of hummus all through-out Europe, because apparently, not much of western Europe has even heard of the stuff. Sadly, my little heart fell when our order of hummus and flat bread came and the hummus tasted like sand. Having grown up on the beaches of Australia, I am quite to authority on what sand tastes like. This definitely tasted like sand.
Day two in Istanbul and I knew the food could only get better – we would venture out of the tourist district and get some of the real, home-made Turkish food I had dreamt of. Only, while sitting at breakfast (and I must talk about breakfast in Turkey) I felt the urge to pull out my surf-board as I rode waves of nausea.
The worst thing that can ever happen to someone who loves food as much as I, is to lose one's appetite. And then have appetite be replaced with nausea. Well folks, it happened. A very sad couple of days ensued...
Will Fifi and Mr von S recover? Will they be able to taste Turkish food without throwing up? The saga continues soon.