Let’s just say the Trabzon wedding deserves its own entry, so this one will be about between the weddings, and what I did with my family and friends before the wedding.
When I got back from America, it was Ramadan so things were pretty slow. I didn’t have a lot of lessons so I was at home a lot, but we had a lot of guests coming over for the iftar dinner, which is the dinner to break the fast. It was at about 8:30pm. Cengiz took advantage of his jetlag and stayed up until about 3am so he could eat and drink as late as possible, and then go the whole day without anything. He would teach private lessons and even worse, group fitness lessons at the gym. He would never complain, in fact, I think he likes the challenge and it makes him feel good. It’s fun to have people over for dinner to enjoy the special meal together, and when we would go out at night it was so alive and everyone had so much energy. I didn’t really have time to take pictures of food because it was always a rush, and I never made anything that special, but here are a couple of things you might enjoy making at home.
This is saksuka. Make a tomato sauce (garlic, tomatoes, and some paprika etc) and in a different pan fry potatoes, eggplant and green pepper, then combine! You can eat it as a side, with a fork or bread.
I really want to try to use lentils more. They are cheap but healthy and filling. This is a dish I learned from a friend. Carefully grill an eggplant (I did it on my stove, by setting it right up against the burner flame) so it will have a nice smokey flavor, and then peel off the skins (be careful, it will be hot!) and cut it into bite sized pieces. Fry it a little with garlic, and then add it to some cooked lentils with some olive oil and salt.
This is on our glass balcony. We can turn and slide the window panes and it feels like you are sitting outside!
One day we went to Buyukada, one of the Princes’ Islands, an hour and a half ferry ride away from Istanbul. There are no motorized vehicles on the islands and so it is a nice retreat from Istanbul. Many people have summer houses there, and many people just go for the day like we did. In the past, many minorities like the Greeks and Armenians had houses there. I actually haven’t walked around Buyukada, we just went to a bay there and we went swimming and sunbathing. It was a really nice day and hard to believe we were so near Istanbul.
Cengiz’s younger cousin is doing his military service (his term is 15 months because he didn’t go to college) a couple of hours away from Istanbul so one day we went to visit him and take him out and about. We went to Tekirdag, a city to the west of Istanbul which is famous for its meatballs. I think the meatballs in Trabzon are better but it was good to try them. Apparently they had a lot of cousins there and one of them had a music shop. I had to take a picture of these…violin? violas? (sorry!) – I know it’s really not traditional but what fun!
One day I came home and I smelled fire. I did a quick check around the house and I discovered it was coming from the ground floor’s garden. I couldn’t really get a good picture but it was a bunch of women cutting tomatoes and preparing sauce that they will later freeze or jar to use in the upcoming months. The Turkish women are so good about that but I never can motivate myself to do it. I did freeze some cooked beans, chickpeas, and lentils and more than once it saved the day! I should stock up on the fresh ingredients while they are in season and freeze them.
At Hamdi restaurant, in Eminonu. Highly recommended for the view and delicious meze (like tapas).
Mom’s been waiting over a year for this. Clotted cream surrounded by honey, best smeared on white crusty bread.
Several months ago I wrote about the Inebolu Market, a market where the vendors come from the Black Sea. Every time I have gone, I just think wow I want to bring my parents here and so finally it happened! We didn’t buy too much but there was a lot to look at. Here we have some butter and some special bread and some SOUR yogurt.
We went to the Chora Church, a must see if you come to Istanbul. We took a great bus ride that went along the famous wedding dress shop in Fatih – there were some real winners there. The church is so famous because of it’s fabulously restored frescoes and mosaics. Unfortunately I hardly knew anything they were depicting but they are so gorgeous it doesn’t really matter. After that we walked through Balat, a working class neighborhood with charm and a delicious meatball place – Koftece Arnavut. I have eaten a lot of meatballs, but these were really good.
Mom, Dad, and I did an Istanbul Eats tour, which I highly recommend you do. Ours visited the European and Asian side. In Karakoy, on the European side, we visited another han which is still being used for storage.
I’ll continue with our Trabzon activities in the next post – this one has gotten too long. I think we all had a lot of fun, and I was so happy to have Mom and Dad in my apartment. It was a little hot and crowded out and about, and luckily my apartment wasn’t too hot. We had to deal with dead seagull smell for a couple of days but besides that I think it was a pretty comfortable visit!