My family had a trip of a lifetime this summer! We got to visit Turkey, stayed with family, and saw and experienced so many wonderful things!
One day, during our time in Ankara, we spent the morning at the Anatolian Archeological Museum. I had several interesting connections with local people throughout this day. I’m going to share three with you here on The Tromp Queen.
The first one was when we stopped at a café to eat lunch. The older gentleman who clearly was the owner and manager, head waiter and probably cook, too – got us settled in a comfortable table. On one side of the table was a comfortable cushion covered bench and on the other side, chairs. We had a view of the hisar (the citadel) and of the local spice market.
We learned the only thing on the menu for lunch was köfte (because of Ramazan and so many people fasting, not eating lunch and thus a limited menu). He quickly brought us a delicious salad which was more finely chopped and spicier than all the kinds we had had up to that point. It was more like salsa than anything else I can compare it to. It had tomatoes, parsley, onion, peppers (red and green), crushed red pepper, black pepper, salt and some other spices. The color was a deep red. I thought it was delicious but everyone else thought it was not that great (and/or it was too spicy). Well, as I said — I thought it was delicious so I was not only eating the salad in front of Rob and me, but also reached over to begin eating the bowl in front of Ben and Sarah since they weren’t going to eat it. The owner noticed and appeared almost instantly with another (and a bit larger than before) bowl for me!
As we waited for our meal, we looked across the busy street (filled with cars, taxis, and mini busses) to a long row of spice/fruit/nut vendors. They had a whole line of shops/stalls set up just outside the citadel walls. I enjoyed looking at all the unfamiliar mixed and the wide variety of legumes and grains and spices that we rarely see in the US.
Also, while we waited a couple of stray cats kept sneaking up to the side of our table (where Ben and Sarah were sitting). The owner shooed the cats away quickly and with a very practiced swoosh. A short while later a young woman wearing traditional clothing (scarf covering her head, long sleeves, long dress) and her young daughter came by asking for alms (which was explained as another Ramazan tradition by our Turkish relatives). The owner said something to her in Turkish and she crossed the street with her daughter. One of the spice vendors gave her a small bag of food (probably nuts or dried fruit) then the woman and her child walked on.
The bread was fabulous: crusty on the outside but moist, fresh, light and delicious smelling on the inside. As we were eating our meal, we saw the owner walk down the street a couple of doorways and come out carrying a large armful of bread. No bag. Just carrying it stacked on his arm and in his hand. No wonder this bread tasted so wonderful! It was probably baked in a brick oven in that little shop a couple of doors down the street and was most likely baked fresh that morning.
Soon the main course arrived.
The köfte was hot, well seasoned, and a wonderful texture (not heavy or dense at all). If meat can be light, it was that. I think we all agreed that this was the best köfte (except maybe for the homemade that we had at Iltur) we ate in Turkey.
I think my favorite part of this little interlude in the day was the fact that after he brought all of us our end of the meal hot tea, the owner/waiter asked if I wanted a second cup. I hesitated because I knew Rob was anxious to see as much as possible, but the man could tell I would really like to drink another cup. He gestured emphatically that he understood and said something like “I bring you more tea” or “You need more tea.” So I had another cup. My family just sighed and waited patiently.
He also snapped a photo of us at the table. Too bad I didn’t ask to take a photo of HIM.
The whole meal was less than $25. The experience was priceless.
- Flashbacks to an empire(or a few)…a week in Istanbul (envisionbelieveact.wordpress.com)
- A Taste of Turkey: 24 Hours in Istanbul (lauratinnelly.wordpress.com)
- Istanbul – The city that separates East and West – Istanbul, Turkey (travelpod.com)
- A Banquet in your Honour (turkbiztrans.wordpress.com)
- The Etiquette of Tea (turkbiztrans.wordpress.com)