Tours of the Tongue in Turkey's Forever Delights
“It was in Cihangir that I first learned Istanbul was not an anonymous multitude of walled-in lives - a jungle of apartments where no one knew who was dead or who was celebrating what - but an archipelago of neighbourhoods in which everyone knew each other.” Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories and the City
If you leaned over the balcony of the AirBNB I stayed in, in Istanbul- you would almost always find a smiling neighbour next to you. Smiling, or in a pensive reflection; taking in the city’s crowds, apartments, smells and sounds while sipping the ever present cups of Turkish tea and coffee, cigarette in hand.
Or delicately balancing their tiny, ornamented cup and small saucer that holds two or three pieces of sugar-powder coated Turkish delight. Look out as well for the strings of dry chilli chandeliers dotting balconies and gardens all over the country!
In Turkey, the idea that a human being is something to put food in holds true!
Great recipes start with fresh, fragrant ingredients and a fantastic pot. In The Silver Elves, The Elf Folks' Book of Cookery: Recipes for a Delighted Tongue, a Healthy Body and a Magical Life, the author writes, “It is important to view a recipe book as one that you use daily and what we in our family call "a living book" — a book that you use all the time, not just read once and discard on the shelf. It is in a sense a spell book, a book of magical enchantments, to be consulted, used and altered as needed.”
With every bite of the food that I had in Turkey in Istanbul, Kusadasi (pronounced Kushadashi), Sirince (pronounced Shirinje) and in Pammukale; I was reminded of the magic of the enchantment of food, flavour and great vibes.
It's a whole experience, with Turkish ice-cream vendors performing tricks to entertain their customers as you can see in the video!
What did I love the most about Turkey?
1. Turkish people absolutely love their cats, you will spot people feeding them in the streets and next to the Balkans, carrying them in the buses in tenderness and softness
2. I was pleasantly surprised by how Turkish people prepared their coffee, stirring a copper cup with the brew over a large, sand-filled plate
3. Discovering Turkish wine and falling in love with their fruity dry reds and whites that had such fresh bouquet tastes. Think wine colour metres of claret, plum, caramel, amber, straw and honey. With a flavour wheel of dark fruit, citrus, toffee, wood and floral.
4. Exploring the small, colourful streets of Sirince and falling in love with over 14 flavours of fruit wine in Europe’s fruit wine capital
5. Eating spicy, rice stuffed mussels at the beachfront of Kusadasi
6. Jogging in Istanbul’s windy and hilly streets
How should you spend one week in Turkey?
Sample and drink a lot of dry white and red Turkish wine, it is delicious!
Eat a lot of fresh sea-food
Drink raki! A Turkish spirit that is clear but that turns milky when you add a couple of drinks of water into it!
Get lost in the colourful streets of Balat
Take a boat down the Balkans and view both sides of the Empire - the Asian and European side
Buy simit (a Turkish bread that gets fresh cottage cheese spread on it) and freshly squeezed juice at the stalls next to Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, walk around the square taking in the tourists and locals having a great day at this historical site. The two historic grand dames get to look at each other every day, a testament to Turkey's diverse cultural heritage that has both Islamic and Christian roots.
Walk down the beach promenade, shop and eat fabulous seafood
Try boiled sweet-corn, Turkish Ice Cream, spicy rice, stuffed mussels and lots of Simit
Party in its nightclubs and bars that are filled with jovial people and live bands of lively Turkish music performances
Eat lots of hearty Turkish village food
Walk through the streets and stop for freshly brewed coffee over trays of hot sand
Wine tasting at one of the vineyard shops and sample up to 14 different fruit wines
Spend a day exploring the villages around Pammukale
Hike up the calcium coated Pammukale Mountains (wear your swimsuit before entering the park if you want the swimsuit shots, they don’t have changing areas at the mountain). Look out for the long, lean lines of people in pilgrimage and awe in the designated zones that tourists are allowed on too!
Eat lots of Turkish village food