Well, we just had our second power outage in 12 hours. The change in the weather seems to really mess up the Turkish power grid. We lost power in the middle of the night, too. We were probably the only ones who noticed, since we were still awake. Turkey is funny like that. They go to bed pretty early, but they sleep in late, probably because they have to pray at dawn, then go back to sleep.
Until yesterday, we had not even seen a cloud, but the storms moved in yesterday while we were at the market in Tire, a town about 40 km from here. For several hours, the clouds got progressively darker and the winds more ominous, until it finally broke open just as we were getting into the minibus back to Selçuk. This questionable weather is a change of pace, I’ll tell you. We had rather become accustomed to hot afternoons and cool mountain nights, now we don’t know what to expect.
The Tire (tee-ray) market itself is supposed to be the biggest outdoor market in all of Turkey, a claim I must say I find a little difficult to believe. Nonetheless, it was a pretty impressive market, with a wide range of goods for sale. We arrived starving, which made the food displays all the more potent. We passed a “working man’s” restaurant with a wide variety of dishes on display, so we took advantage of the opportunity to eat some non-standard fare. Not that we don’t love the standard fare, but apparently Turkish restaurants barely scratch the surface of Turkish cuisine. The excuse is that the women cook at home but the men run the restaurants, but to me this rings hollow. If the men are going to insist on running the restaurants they cannot simply accept their crapulence in the kitchen. Men in the west don’t make excuses for turning out boring menus, they learn to cook better and make a serious impact on our culinary world.
Regardless, our lunch was pretty good. We had a bowl of beans, a bowl of minced lamb with fried egg, a bowl of fried liver, a bowl of rice, salad, bread and tea for five lira. That’s about €2.50, or US$3.75. How’s that for fair pricing? For dessert, I found an itinerant honey cake vendor. That stuff is too sweet for Sunshine, being a fairly basic cake soaked in honey water, but I love it.
Despite the building storm, we could not leave without the famous Tire kebab. Sun had seen a really busy shop selling it in köfte (meatball) format so we went to check it out. When traveling, the key isn’t to eat at the snazziest place with the English menus, in fact I recommend the opposite. You’ve got to seek out the places with the local food, as endorsed by throngs of locals. You may be thinking “but Josh, doesn’t Vancouver vote White Spot the best burger every year? It’s that evidence that locals can’t be trusted to have good taste?” There is some truth to this, but in my experience a country that actually has a good food culture, you can trust the taste of the locals a little more than back home.
And Turkey most definitely has food culture. Never mind the döner kebabs you see in every town in Germany. Turks eat well. The distinct geographical regions and ethnic heritages of the people inhabiting them have given the country a diverse range of cuisines, from Black Sea to Kurdish, to the fare of the Aegean. Here, in what used to be Greek lands (until very recently, as per my previous post), agriculture has been established for millennia. Figs originate here. They invented yoghurt here. (Oh man, our goat yoghurt is practically chèvre, at distinctly non-chèvre prices…plop some honeycomb on top of that and damn!). Our olive oil comes from our village, pressed by our neighbours, in unlabelled reused jars. We hike up the hill and look over the Aegean where our fish comes from. (Speakings of fish, did you know a kitten can inhale three anchovies in less than ten seconds?)
The Tire köfte sandwich place was classic old school. No décor, just a couple of long tables and little wooden stools. When I went up to place my order, some old lady stole my stool. There was a water jug, but only two glasses so they were shared communally. I didn’t get in on that, but I did get in on the one and only menu item. The sandwich starts with great bread, a crusty loaf slathered with butter and grilled. The tomatoes are great here – red inside, not that pallid pink crap back home. They put some greens on there as well, then the meatballs. That’s it. And it’s brilliant! It takes nothing more than some great ingredients and a few decades worth of experience to make a killer sandwich, of which the Tire köfte definitely qualifies. They don’t really do sandwiches in Germany, unless you count leberkäse (which barely counts as food, let alone a sandwich), so I’ve been hurting ever since leaving Miami.
Today the threat of thunderstorms cancelled our hike, in part because we want a view, not clouds at the top of the hill. Then with the power outage we were really left wondering what to do. There are downsides to being in such a small place and one is early onset boredom.
But that’s what the kittens are for. In addition to Scratchy and Bold, we have a part-time kitten around here, too, who purrs so loud we call it Motorhead. It’s annoying at times because they are all over any hint of food we might have, but they are cute, too. Getting away from it all brings you back to the small things in life, and for a short while that can be great. But we’re planning a few day trips now, to break up the cabin fever and give us more inspiration. There is so much to do here, we’re not too worried. More ruins are in our future, plus Pamukkale (Google it and tell me it doesn’t look cool) before we set out for Cappadocia.
‘Til next time!