A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Friday, July 24, 2009

Turkish Food

Most of our rooms have included a Turkish breakfast but we can’t stomach anymore tomato, cucumber, cheese, black olives (in the morning, yech), and hard boiled eggs. Usually we opt for just the free jam, bread and Nescafe which gets old pretty quick. It’s a sad fact but we’ve drunk so much instant coffee I don’t know if I remember what Starbucks tastes like anymore.

The Turkish coffee is dark and strong and comes with heavy grounds lining the bottom of the cup. This coffee kicks Nescafe in the ass but is usually twice the price.

In Bodrom we drooled over the Lokma which are fried balls of dough in sugar syrup sold on the street corner. We greedily ate them with toothpicks until a mini sword fight broke out between us as we fought for the last one.

Ron fell all over himself for the Helvasi, one type sesame, one shaped as a birds nest (or maybe mohammeds beard) and another a chocolate walnut variety that is sold in blocks that weigh at least a pound each and could be used as a doorstop in a pinch.

The most ubiquitous food is doner (essentially a greek gyro) which is the Turkish word for “turning“. I call it meat on a stick. We ate it almost everyday since it is 2 YTL or about a dollar fifty for a chicken sandwich. Unfortunately the Turks don’t believe in sauces on their doner so it is usually dry leaving me to dream of the days of where mustard was plentiful.

What would a visit to Turkey be without shish kebap? I sampled the lamb and chicken shish which comes off the skewer with rice, pita, and a little salad. It’s nothing special but it is literally everywhere. We wanted to try the pottery kebap in Goreme which is baked in a terracotta dish and busted open at your table but didn’t have the chance.

The best Turkish pizza we had was in Konya where we had a ground beef and cheese pizza alongside yogurt, spicy sauce, and fresh tomatoes and jalapenos. Ron was one happy critter!

We ate our first Gozleme in Goreme which is a tortilla like flat bread filled with meat, parsley, or potato and cheese. Like a local quesadilla this was my favorite lunch.

Sucuk is a spicy sausage that we ate several times. We had a couple follow up dinners at our new friend Kubilay’s, one was a grilled sucuk sandwich we ate near midnight and another was a delicious spicy bean soup.

Turkish Ravioli are mini raviolis filled with a bit of cheese and soaked in cold yogurt and tomato sauce. It sounds weird and if you are in the mood for actual pasta it is weird, but in the realm of authentic dishes it is high on Ron's list.

Cay pronounced “chai” is tea and it is almost religion here. Turks drink tea all day long, linger over tea, conversate over tea, offer you tea, deliver you tea down the street on a silver tray.

Nothing goes better with your morning tea than borek which is a thin phyllo-like pastry filled with meat or cheese, steamed to perfection, cut into squares and sold by weight. I could eat this every morning of my life.

The more popular but less tasty, in my opinion, is a round sesame roll called a simit that is very cheap and easy to find. Perched on this guys head make them somehow more appealing than they are.

Variety. Can I say it again how lucky you all are to have a bountiful harvest of international cuisines at your beck & call every day and night? We are so used to eating a smorgasbord of different foods, Thai for lunch, Italian for dinner, Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Afghani, Mexican, that its tough eating doner and shish kebap over and over and over. How do the Turks do it? Don’t they get sick of it? They must not. The Subway is empty. The Domino delivery scooters are rusty. Everyone wants the shish.

One night we found an Indian restaurant called Dubb and nearly fainted over the tikka masala, paneer, and naan. I know this post is about Turkish food, but man that was some scrumptious eats that night. Ron still talks about it.

The last night before our train to Sofia we ate sulu yemek which is traditional home cooking found at reasonable prices. Often the dishes start with the same base of garlic and tomato and are a mélange of seasonal vegetables and meats cooked in a single pot. Perfect. You know you always find the best things right before you leave.


vlyons August 5, 2009 at 1:20 AM  

My sympathies on the coffee. If you go back to Greece or Turkey, try asking for Cafe Filtre or Cafe Americain-- two names for filter coffee. Usually less expensive than Turkish (or Greek) coffee but not much more than the unavoidable and horrible Nescafe. At least it was several centuries ago when we were there...

Alison August 12, 2009 at 10:25 PM  

Ugh, nescafe!

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