Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Turkish food

Maybe I shouldn't try to critique the food in Turkey since I don't eat the majority of the most common foods - namely, "Kebaps." Being a vegetarian is a little difficult in Istanbul, but, as always, I did find some great things to eat and drink in restaurants, in dessert shops, and on the street.

One of the restaurant foods that I liked the best is Pide. It is like a pizza, but boat-shaped. This one (on the right) had some veggies and cheese on it, and the crust was sprinkled with sesame seeds. I had another one in another restaurant that had spinach and egg - it was interesting - kind of like a quiche.

Another spinach dish I had was something like Greek spanikopita - layers of spinach and filo dough.... baked with some crumbly cheese sprinkled in....

Yogurt is a main ingredient is many dishes and drinks. I had some wonderfully velvety yogurt soup that had a little rice in it. The fresh mint leaves gave the soup a nice fresh flavor.

The strangest-looking thing I had was a pillow of bread with yogurt-dill sauce. The "pillow" was essentially a large pita that was puffed up like a pillow. Dipped in the sauce, it was delicious.

I could subsist exclusively on Istanbul's street food. Every food-group is covered! Simit is what I ate the most on the street. The simit carts are always close by, no matter where in the city one goes. A ring of bread crusted with sesame seeds, baked until it is almost toasty. That's it - basic, but delicious!

This photo (to the left) shows one of my favorite street foods - on the pier these guys fry up fresh fish filets and put one in a long crusty bun with fresh greens and lemon juice. It's way better than a hoagie!

Corn on the cob is another staple of street food. The corn is yellow, but not sweet - more like Mexican corn (elote).

Another Mexican copy - churros..... sort of. I don't know what the Turks call them, but they look like a churro in a ring and they are soaked in honey. Yum.

Speaking of honey, baklava is to die for! I sampled several different kinds, but this (in the photo) was my favorite - with little bits of crushed pistachio layered into the pastry and honey.

Another amazing dessert is called profiterol - a mountain of creme puffs smothered in dark chocolate sauce. Katherine and I went to a dessert shop called Inci to try some. Inci is the oldest dessert shop in Istanbul and was the first one to create this sinfully delicious concoction!

The first time I remember hearing about Turkish Delight was in my childhood - from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe - Edmund's fixation with Turkish Delight was his downfall. I never knew what it was -- now I know what it looks like and tastes like, but I still don't know what it's made of! It's sweet. There are kinds with nuts and without. It's coated in confectioner's sugar. It's cut into little cubes. My favorite is rose-flavored. That's all I know. (The photo is rose Turkish Delight.)

Turkish beer is decent enough - there aren't micro-breweries like in the States, but their national brand, Efes is pretty good. I tried both the pilsner and the dark - I like the dark the best - creamy, a little bitter, but with a good, rich flavor.

More people drink tea than anything else. The photo to the right is Turkish tea - or, rather, ├žay. Tea is served in little glasses set into a little saucer with a little spoon on the side and two lumps of sugar. I always wanted to say, "One lump, or two?" every time I was served one of these Turkish teas. I'm not an avid tea-drinker other than herbal tea, so I can't really compare the Turkish tea to anything else. It's hot. It's bitter without sugar. It's tea!

What I loved more was the coffee - not all the coffee, and not even Turkish coffee (thick, sweetish mixture served in a tiny mug). No - I loved that I was able to get the kind of coffee that I love - Americano! This final photo was the most delicious cup of coffee I have had since I left the U.S.! Not that the beans were anything special.... I just miss that certain flavor. In Georgia all they have is instant coffee and Turkish coffee - not my favorites. But when this particular cup of coffee arrived at my table, I breathed in the hot, familiar scent, closed my eyes, and smiled! Then I snapped a photo before enjoying every single drop --- all the way down to the last one!

Anybody hungry?

1 comment:

  1. ok, I want to travel the world and experience the sights and sounds I've been reading about, and now....the TASTES! Sounds WONDERFULLY interesting!!!