Monday, November 2, 2009

More on Istanbul

I feel like I haven't said a whole lot about Istanbul yet. From the moment I arrived, it immediately felt more exotic here as compared to the other cities I've been to so far. The sights and smells were not exactly overwhelming, but it was a lot to take in.

Let's start with the sights. I mentioned to ToadMama that I must be shopping deprived because everywhere I looked I saw something I wanted to buy. Shops have colorful scarves, beads, and ceramics. The clothing, bags, and shoes in the shops are different from anything I've seen so far. I kept seeing things and imagining who I'd buy it for, if I were headed home from here instead of on to my next destination. I haven't bought anything for myself yet, no souvenirs or anything, so I may just treat myself and get something pretty! On the other hand, a lot of what I saw had 'Made in Thailand' tags, so I may just wait to get it there where it will probably be cheaper.

Next up, the smells. Yummy smells abound in Istanbul. It's no wonder it seems that Turkish people are always eating something - it just smells too good to ignore. You can buy things like kebab and other on-the-go items like roasted ears of corn and roasted chestnuts. But people are all about cooking at home, too, as evidenced by the markets. You can find all kinds of colorful produce, nuts, olives, and meat. One section of a market that I was in had loads of the most amazing looking silvery fish that I really wish I'd gotten a picture of. People pop into the markets or various produce stands to get a few things they want for dinner that night and then head home to cook. Speaking of home cooked meals, Mehmet has cooked a few traditional Turkish dishes for me that were delicious. One was a spinach dish that had been chopped and seasoned (but I couldn't tell you what all was in it). Another was a celery root dish that has onions, garlic, lemon, celery root (when cooked, kind of has the consistency of a cooked potato), and celery stalk. Generally both of these dishes are cooked a day ahead of time and served cold the next day. Yet another was chicken that had been chopped up in the food processor with spices and sauted. Mehmet also made a dessert that I got to help with - baked quince with clotted cream. SO good (and I'm not just saying that because I peeled the quince!). It was also suggested that I try salep, a traditional Turkish drink. The link gives the history of the drink, but what I can tell you is that it's milk based, served hot, and sprinkled with cinnamon. It's quite good, even if the consistency of it is a little offputting at first.

What else? That should fill in some of the blanks of Istanbul, but what do you want to know?

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