Saturday, March 13, 2010

Struggle Gets Dishy: Istanbul Edition

Sadly enough I can't provide you with any of the recipes for the following dishes, mostly because I have no fricking idea how they are made. But I would be remiss if I didn't express to you, gentle readers, how awesome I think the food is here in Istanbul. While Strugglemano might not agree (he has VERY exclusive tastes) I really enjoy the food here, the eggplant, the peppers, the stuffed grape leaves, the lamb, it's all working out for me. This might be because I grew up with a grandmother who, due to her own life spent wandering the world, had a kitchen filled with Armenian, Russian, Persian, Ukrainian and French specialties, and as a result, the idea of a meal which included grilled chicken, babaganosh, matzoh ball soup and lavash seemed like a perfectly natural way to spend an evening (or morning, the woman didn't really do breakfast like the rest of us do). So I love Turkish food, and my palate for yogurt, broad beans and spinach has been duly satisfied by my time spent here in Istanbul.

While the elaborate dishes served in the restaurants in Istanbul are indeed marvelous, it's the street food and little snacks I find most beguiling about this culinary capital. This is a culture that really works for me, food-wise, because noshing is not only allowed, but encouraged. A big part of Turkish cuisine is the meze, or appetizer, which can be cold or hot, and when cold is like a little salad, while when hot seems to inevitable consist of fish or something wrapped in phyllo dough. There don't seem to be any hours in which lunch or dinner are formally served, and the citizens of Istanbul seem to be eating all the time, a practice I can only admire. The food served on the street, of which there is a TON,(all of which seems TOTALLY suspect, but to each their own bacterial infection) seems to act as a stop gap between, say, the 2pm meal and the 5pm meal, which is just a preview for the 7pm meal. It's genius.

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