Friday, March 25, 2011

Sunday, March 20

We started the day popping down to a local restaurant to eat breakfast. It was like so many establishments: 4-5 tables, one waiter. Cozy. We were flanked by English-speakers. At one table sat three generations. They looked Dutch but as soon as they opened their mouths, I knew they were not. Probably from New Zealand. Behind us sat an elderly couple discussing the multiple meltdowns of the Japanese reactors.

We enjoyed a typical Turkish breakfast. In the lower left are two typical breakfast rolls--faintly sweet, egg wash glazed and garnished with black sesame seeds. In the upper left are rectangular dishes of: strawberry jelly, cheese crumbles, and plum ejlly. The cheese is sharp and pungent. The plum jelly has a wonderful fragrance. Very plummy. In the upper right is butter in a pool of honey, a fruit salad of apple and banana cubes with persimmon seeds, and a dish of fabulous olives. In the lower right are triangles of feta plus sliced cheese and in the middle are: sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, and herbs, of which dill is very important.

More breakfast items: a dish of sliced sausages resembling hot dogs, sautéed potatoes, and hard-boiled eggs.

After breakfast, we walked through a mini-antiques district. That is, the district is small, not the antiques.

Attractively painted antique seller.

Another antique store.

Young cat on an antique column.

We stopped at a music store to check out the Duduk/ These are like short oboes made solely of wood, preferably plum

Tom tries the Duduk (holding it quite incorrectly.)

Along the same street, I took this picture of a fruit juice maker/vender. They take great pride in how they display cut fruit, taking advantage of its colorfulness.

Restaurant Row. At the top, it says "Happy New Year"

Galata Tower. Built by the Emperor Anastasius in 507 of wood and called "Lighthouse Tower". Rebuilt by the Genoese in 1348 of stone and rechristened as "Christ Tower" and became part of their fortifications. Then after Sultan Mehmet chased out the Christians, it eventually was named after the local province of Galata. Interestingly, the Genoese and Venetians controlled trade with the Arabs, and that's how Europe got its sugar and spices. When the Ottomans pushed them back, they sought other venues to the Indies. Columbus, a Genoese, led the charge to establish European-controlled routes to the Indies and coincidentally colonizing Africa, South America and North America. The rest, as they say, is history.

We passed one of the state-run brothels. The pastries displayed here, called Tolumbo, are also called Kerhore Tatlisi and are eaten immediately after spending time with a prostitute.

We walked across the Galata Bridge. This is a view looking back to the Galata Tower. All along the top deck of the bridge are fishermen catching a variety of silvery fish.

Grilled fish served in a split bread and eaten either on the first level eateries of the bridge or in the park at the foot of the bridge.

The marvelous sandwich is complemented by a glass of pickles. In the background is the New Mosque or Yeni Camii, built in 1665.

And for dessert, how about freshly made donuts? Very similar to the Greek loukoumathes.

We walked toward the New Mosque, built in the early 17th century on land confiscated by the Sultan from the local Jewish merchants, who had developed substantial commercial power in this district, threatening to the Muslim majority.

Before we came to the New Mosque, we visited the Egyptian Bazaar, built on the site where Ottoman Jews had consolidated much of their commercial power. This was razed and replaced with an "Egyptian Bazaar".

Throughout the Egyptian Bazaar one finds stands selling Lokum. Dubbed "Turkish Delight" by an enterprising Briton centuries ago, it became marketed throughout Europe under that sobriquet. Lokum is a confectionery based on the gelatinization of starch in the presence of sugar to form a paste containing flavors, colors, and nuts.

Store selling lights. Sorely tempted to replace that piece of crapola in our vestibule!

Spices and teas. This is what powered the European move across the Atlantic and the post-Renaissance colonization of much of the world. It was to obtain just these things at the source rather than trading with the Arabs, who until then controlled distribution of tea, spices, and sugar.

In the courtyard of the New Mosque, a view of one of the two minarets.

Vault inside the New Mosque. Islam forbids pictures of animal or plant life. That's why the phenomenal development of the "Arabesque" or geometric shape. The entire field of geometry, trigonometry and algebra were developed by the Arabs, first in Bagdad and later in Grenada and other parts of Andalusian Spain. When you look at these mathematical designs, you are looking at the early history of mathematics which, after all, is itself an Arab word

Long before mozzarella, the Turks were making Tel Peyneri, also a string type cheese (Pasta Filata en Italiano) The Turks call cheese "Peynir", very similar to the Persian "Paneer", the word used to denote cheese in most Indian restaurants. The cheese man is separating the cheesy strings. They tasted very much like Provolone, which is a slightly aged form of Mozzarella. The Turks make a great variety of cheeses.

Beyaz Peynir. The typical Turkish breakfast cheese. Slabs are served with sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, and a mixture of fresh herbs.

Ayran. Cem bought me a glass of Ayran, which is yogurt mixed with water and salt. They shoot the mixture through a tube, which causes a very stable foam to form on top, and this is scooped onto the beverage. The result is really a marvelous beverage, and I drank it down quite happily, knowing that the lactobacilli are very good for proper gut function.

Cay (pronounced chai). Turkish tea. The Turks have the highest per-capita consumption of tea in the world. They also grow over 6% of the world's tea--along their coast with the Black Sea. They brew it differently than anyone else, soaking it first in cold water, then slowly raising the temperature by adding boiling water. It is commonly served in a tulip-shaped glass because it represents culture, peace, and the arts. The tulip is native to Turkey and was developed by the Turks long before the Dutch started to cultivate it. The word, Tulip, is Turkish. It means "turban".

We finished the day by watching a performance of the Whirling Dervishes.


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