So, I went to Turkey! A long time ago! And I didn’t blog about it! But now I am! Hurrah.

And so now it is a nostalgia blog.

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Things in Turkey that tasted really good:

Turkish breakfast! I want this in my life on the daily. So many bits and bots. Ok: tiny bowl of olives, some weird bologna-pink meat, a super-plain flat omelet, this soft a-little-less-salty-than-feta sheep’s cheese–always cut into triangles, maybe some normal-ish Swiss-ish cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes, a never-ending bread basket, honey, and jam. Covering all yer morning bases. My favorite little mish-mash: bread, white cheese, honey, pepper. GOOD GOD. Fueled for the day. Or the next 45 minutes, till we stop for a coffee and a pastry.

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Balik Ekmek, fish sammie. Literally “fish bread.” Best bought from dude on boat. The older the dude and the grungier the boat the better. Bonus points if he has toddler-sized plastic stools for you to sit on and a dog to eat your scraps. There are tons of boats rigged up with grills, making sandwiches out of crusty bread, questionable Bosporus fish (you know how hippies say to eat raw honey to get over allergies? I think I’m going to start eating trash fish from wherever I am to acclimate myself), raw onions, and tomatoes. Add lemon and salt to taste. Yeah! Kickass. Don’t think about it too much. (I think we also ate lamb intestines on the street. It looked really good–I swear, it did–and I was starving so I made us all sit down to dinner and we all pointed at the really yummy looking lamb bits. Got in a bit over our heads on the cool-tourist front there.)

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Grilled anchovies at our favorite underground-ish fish bar/restaurant. We went twice; the dude seemed elated to see us again, and it seemed we’d earned his approval as good eaters so he gave us all the insider intel. Fish “ravioli,” which were not ravioli at all, but deep-fried fish-cubes with spicy runny yogurt on top. Angler fish, which made mom feel barfy but I kind of liked. Fish cakes, smooshed around skewers and grilled as well as smooshed into balls and fried. Fish. They dig them some seafood there; all bridges are packed with dudes fishing, filling grimy old plastic buckets (no real buckets, all re-purposed yogurt tubs, water jugs, etc) with shiny squirmy fish.

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Famous Kanlica yogurt. Has a weird skin that you mix in, and can (should) be ordered with a giant (seriously, giant) scoop of powdered sugar on top. The powdered sugar gets half mixed in and half turns into sweet, dusty lumps. Dusty lumps sounds awful, but, yeah. Really good.

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Yogurt sauces in general. Whizzed with beets, topped with olive oil. Purslane stirred in, garlic whisked in. (Sometimes I really want to leave blogs un-spell-checked; that was “garlic wished in.”)

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Simits–street bagels. White bread, in a ring, covered in sesame seeds. Cost like… a quarter a pop. Staves off desperate hunger (aka tears, emancipation from parents, divorces, and world wars) like nobody’s business. Galled Gevrek in Izmir, the land of my dad’s youth. He remembered eating them as a kid and Googled them like mad and never could find them, because he was spelling it wrong. Ha ha. Pretty good; definitely not as good as a bagel though. Sorry Turkey.

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Tea. Called cay (chai) and served everywhere, all the time, always in little tulip glasses with a red-daubed saucer. Always exactly the same–if you do it differently you are exiled to Croatia. The tea is lovely, yes. And you sure can drink a lot more of it than coffee. And it really lends itself to hanging out more than an espresso does. But, lord, that first regular drip coffee back in the U S of A was fantastic. (Though if we had the same amount of 50-cent tea stops, I would live a significantly mellower life, hanging out on the corner with my tea-homies.)

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Pistachio everything. Chocolate bars (or chocolate sticks–really skinny chocolate bars) filled with ’em, pistachio baklava-ish things, lots of pistachio ice cream. (Which is my favorite, by the way, should anyone reading this want to buy me ice cream.) Only disappoint was a bodega ice cream cone, the ice cream in which was chemically altered so it would not ever melt, come hell or high water or a giant heat wave. Which really just took the fun out of it. And made my tongue feel weird.

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One night we went to a super cute sidewalky restaurant, only to discover that they had no alcohol. No Efes (the one and only beer of the entire nation–tasted like Rainier. Tasted like home) but we were starving as per usual so we stuck with it. I ordered semi-blindly and was rewarded with a giant bowl of the tiniest, most adorable American Girl Doll-sized dumplings (each had a two-milligram speck of meat inside) doused with yogurt and splashed with hot chili oil over the top. Hell yeah. Bowl o’ dumplings; I can roll with that.

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Kumru, the most best carb-iest beach meal there ever was. This little town Alacati (Where we actually were not? We got confused on the bus and went to another town which I do not know the name of. And M&D were just rolling with it, and wanted to head on home after a long beach day at the unknown town, but I nearly cried because I wanted to see the old stone houses in Alacati very badly and they felt bad so we went there in the end. And it WAS great, so I felt a little vindicated, but still a little bad about dragging my poor parents around in the sun. But we had wine and cake, so yeah. It all worked out.) Anyway, the kumru. Little pointy-ended baguette (with sesame seeds) with a thick slice of white cheese, ever so slightly melted, salami, sausage, and tomato. That is all. Wrapped in paper. Ideally served with a yogurt drink, extra-ideally on the shores of the Aegean sea.

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And finally, the strawberries and cherries from the tiny produce/cigarette vendors. Tiny soft strawberries, like ones from your yard (if you are the type of person who tends your yard and not me who had a lovely planter box for one week till I got bored and it all died), not like the big hard boring strawberries from the store. Handle-with-care and eat-now berries. Sweet moment with the truly ancient greengrocer as he very slowly picked out each strawberry to compile me the best half-kilo of of berries there ever was.

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Yum. Good stuff. Thanks Mom and Dad; the best travel companions on earth.

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