canim

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Leftovers from Turkey
Post gazette Marilyn McDevitt Rubin

I would like to travel back in time to Istanbul and to the tour from which I've just returned.

Able to metamorph, I'd ask to be dropped into the chair I had on the patio of the Feriye restaurant. As I sat at the water's edge in the outdoor dining room, my view that evening was of the magnificent suspension bridge over the Bosporus illuminated by a full moon in a blue-black sky. The sight was so marvelous it struck me as profound.

The experiences I'd been having were taking me over. Maybe my father's family were not from Scotland. Maybe my mother's family wasn't of German descent. Maybe we were Turks.

I remember visiting the Archaeological Museum on my first trip to Turkey a dozen years before. I kept returning to the mosaic of a female saint set within a large marble slab. Her arms were open as in an embrace, and her eyes seemed to say "Welcome."

When I got back to Pittsburgh after that trip, I found that I was one of a number of people in the city asked by the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts in Shadyside to participate in a fund-raiser. We would each produce an illustration on a ceramic plate that would then be fired before being exhibited and sold. I can't draw a straight line with a ruler, but for this cause I thought I'd try to be creative. Since the Turkish saint was on my mind, I decided to reproduce the icon as I remembered it. I did my best but wasn't satisfied.

After I'd turned it in, I decided to spare myself the embarrassment of its still being on exhibition when the sale was over and all the other plates were gone. I called with an offer to buy it back. But the plate had been sold. The saint whose name I didn't even know had worked a miracle. Would she have done it for someone other than a Turk?

On this most recent trip I was turning into one.

I loved the food.

Eating at the Feriye Lokantasi restaurant, this was the menu:

Whole artichoke filled with oriental rice; grilled aubergine with yogurt walnut mousse; marinated yogurt cheese; Parisian melon and garden greens.

Fillet of sea bass with artichoke poached in paper.

Traditional whole baked lamb with own juice; grilled seasonal vegetables and pilaf.

Assorted Ottoman desserts: Turkish delight, baklava, helva and other unidentifiable sweet things.

It was the most expensive meal of the trip, and it was delicious.

We often ate deliciously. Turkish hotel breakfasts, colorful and lavish, woke us up. Laid out on the buffet on silver platters were sliced peeled cucumbers and bright red tomatoes (I don't believe we ever had a meal -- breakfast, lunch or dinner -- without tomatoes and cucumbers) hard- and soft-boiled eggs, and triangles of beyaz peynir, a cow's cheese resembling goat milk feta, stored in brine. Olives of superior quality, mostly black and wrinkled, were always on the breakfast buffet, and we Westerners gobbled them down with bread.

The closer we were to where the bread was baked, the better it was. In Cappadocia, we enjoyed a backyard lunch at the home of a village elder. His wife and women from the neighborhood did the cooking. We watched while they baked the breads in both a wood-fired oven and an in-ground tandoori-style oven. The finished breads looked like clouds. I spent most of my appetite on the puffy, golden brown, crusty and sometime cheese-filled breads. They were a wonderful accompaniment to the yogurt soup flavored with tomato, cracked wheat and mint. My intention was to pack in the memory of this meal by stuffing myself.

I had another treasured bread experience. It was at the Richmond Savannah Hotel where we stopped on our way to the ruins at Hierapolis. Founded around 190 B.C., this extraordinary site had been home to pagans, Romans, Jews and early Christians.

Trying to get a fix on the hotel restaurant's dinner buffet, I wandered by chance into a corner where a Turkish women was seated cross-legged on the floor making bread. She had a plate in front of her and was accepting donations. With a long narrow rolling pin, she rolled out a ball of yeast dough as thin as paper and flipped it over onto a round, domed skillet. She arranged fresh leaves of parsley over half the circle and flipped over the other half of the dough to cover them. Flipping the filled bread back and forth, she fried it until blisters appeared, then cut it into slices. I couldn't get enough of that bread. I came to her attention because I returned so frequently for slices of it and because my coins were always clinking onto her plate. She never changed her serious expression, but she would follow me with her eyes and nod. With never a word, we had a relationship going.

Traveling the tourist path, our group was never served true Turkish coffee, which can be thick -- almost chewy. Mostly we were offered Nescafe. I learned the habit of cay, strong black bitter Turkish tea drunk from tulip-shaped glasses, a design dating from the reign of Ahmet III in 1730. Trying to drink the tea while holding a sugar cube between my teeth, I just made a mess. I settled for nibbling on the sugar square.

As we traveled through western Turkey, we occasionally stopped at commercial outlets where porcelain, jewelry, rugs or leather goods were sold. I found these shopping expeditions entertaining because the sales people who conducted them always had a clever, comic repartee.

Without fail we were offered a choice of refreshments before the presentation, and at one shop, Sentez Avanos, I chose Tiger Milk, a white, cloudy, anise liqueur mixed with water and served like a glass of milk. With a twinkle in his eye, the host said he was happy to serve it because it was potent and it improved rug sales. It was, and I did buy a rug.
 
Leftovers from Turkey
another nice one canim...and had to smile at the ''Tiger's Milk''...she means Aslan Sütü Lions Milk...in other words a good old glass of rakı. no wonder she bought the carpet. :lol:
 

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