Mixing it up a little bit today, my friends. Behold: my first crack at Travel Writing. Food Writing..? Travel Food Writing..? I went to Turkey, and ate a lot of amazing things and I want to tell you about all those things. So whatever you call that, that’s what I’m doing.
So I would like to first tell you that if you ever have the opportunity to go to Turkey, do it. It was never really a country that I had on my “list” but when we were invited to spend a week with good friends and their family and friends on a yacht sailing the Mediterranean, we immediately said HECK YES. The rest, as they say, is probably really boring to anyone who wasn’t there history. Istanbul was such a vibrant, bustling and interesting city to spend a few days in. And the coastline in the South where we sailed was quite possibly the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. Turquoise water, mountain sides full of olive trees, cedars, and ancient ruins. And also turtles, and dolphins, and goats. But as with any travel experiences that I’ve had, my most favouritest part was the drinking and the eating. And there was a LOT of eating. And a RESPONSIBLE amount of drinking.
These are a few of the highlights…
The local beer of choice. Cheap. Plentiful. Always ice cold. Always refreshing. Especially at 10:00am when you could have sworn it was at least noon. Oopsie.
Meat on a spit. Generally lamb. Sometimes beef. Sometimes chicken. Slow cooked in its own fat and juices for hours and hours. Served in a really thin and chewy flat bread, with ripe tomatoes, parsley, onions, and maybe a little wee bit of sauce but you hardly even need it. The bread and the meat are just so good. Best enjoyed while walking to your next snack/drink location.
Please see above, but on a stick and grilled. We randomly stumbled in here one night and it was life changingly delicious. And it happened to be one of Anthony Bourdain’s stops on his last trip through Istanbul so it was truly meant to be.
Speaking of Anthony Bourdain….we saw him one day. And we freaked out a little. Squealing. Jumping. The whole kit and caboodle. And Ollie tried to take a selfie and got a picture of the sky. BUT I SWEAR WE SAW HIM. Look closely.
The Balkan equivalent of Tapas. Turkish small plates. Little bits and pieces of things to share amongst friends. Lots of vegetables, garlic, salads, fritters, soft cheeses, pastries, you name it. A few of my favourites: dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice, nuts, dill, lemon, minced meat). This walnut and pepper spread. Shredded carrot salad. We stopped here twice because it was that good.
A staple at all meals – it comes in the form of a drink, a side, a topping, or part of a salad. It is very thick. Very creamy. Sort of half way between greek yogurt and sour cream, and I could eat it by the spoonful. Sometimes it’s mixed with chopped pickled peppers, garlic and salt, and then applied directly to hips.
Delightful little puff pastry pockets, sometimes stuffed with cheese and spinach. Or sometimes just cheese if you’ve already had your serving of greens for the day. I’m not sure there’s any need to describe this further – how could it not be the best.
This one you have to try to believe. I was skeptical but immediately converted. So you take a standard white hamburger bun. You put a little mozz-like cheese on it, you put a thing hamburger patty on it, and you top it with tomato sauce. Wrap it in foil and steam it. STEAM IT! Until it becomes this soggy, gooey, cheesy, saucy, meaty bundle of food that is absolutely perfect after seven two beers.
If you’re a vegetarian, or gluten-free, the Turkish diet probably won’t have the same effect it did on me. Because mostly what we ate was meat and bread. SO MUCH MEAT. Lamb, beef, chicken, repeat. A lot of grilled meat too, generally served atop more meat, atop bread, atop eggplant and tomatoes and more meat.
There was also lamb grilled on a flat top with tomatoes, onions and lamb intestine (don’t make that noise… it’s perfect) served on a warm crusty bun. Washed down with an ice cold Efes and then straight to bed.
Turkish coffee was not my cup-of-tea (ha!) It was a bit too fragrant. But it sure was presented beautifully.
The national drink of Turkey. A disgusting Anise flavoured liqueur which gets poured over ice and water and turns a delightfully opaque shade of grey. Barf.
Hard to sum up in 1,000 words or less…but I tried.