Friday, March 21, 2008

My First Delight with Turkish

An overloaded cab, a bumpy ride, a security-check scuffle, a long layover and a sleepy giggly plane ride later, and Ayten and I found ourselves in her native Istanbul, at last. Somehow I am still up, although I've probably had only 4 or 5 hours of sleep in the last few days or whatever. What time is it? Gee, I dunno: 12:45 in Boston? I don't care about Boston, I'm in Istanbul. And here it's 6:45. How long will I last?

I've been trying to learn Turkish, or pick up a few words here and there. I tried to absorb the lessons from off YouTube, perused the language sections of my Lonely Planet book, and tried to pronounce every sign that I saw coming off the plane and driving back to Ayten's with her father. Although I understand little of what the parents are saying, the warmth of the family reunion knows no words. They are both such lovely people, happy, joking, caring. I am so thankful to be staying with them in a very lovely home.

My first introduction to Turkey though, I think was in the meal I shared with Ayten and her parents shortly after we came home. It started off with a yoghurt-based soup made with olive oil, rice and mint called (Yayla Çorbası; yae-lah chor-bas-eh). It was exactly what I needed to combat the jetlag, exhaustion and general discombobulation. Following warm comfort with explosions of various flavors was a Turkish Tabbouleh only spicier! (Kısır; keh-sehr) You eat it with lettuce and somehow it is less dry than the traditional tabbouleh I've had. Another mouthful of goodness. There was a sweet/spicy/tomatoey dish that also sat on the table and made my stomach rejoice, but whose name I can't reproduce. It had navy beans maybe? Who knows. And then there was this bread covered in meat, that is very similar to the Armenian lahmahjoun (with the same name in Turkish). All in all, a savory introduction to the wonders of Turkish cuisine.

Rambling? Maybe. Forgive me, I left Boston 18 hours ago and have had little sleep. More later? You bet.

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