Friday, 24 June 2011

The Turkish way

I am writing my blog whilst sitting on the patio in the morning sun, having had the first swim of the day around 7.30am, when it is cool and the sea is silky smooth.  Returning to England tomorrow is going to be tough!
Last night I had dinner with my Turkish neighbours (so had to go armed with a phrase book!), and was amazed at how much fun you can have with people when you can only exchange a few words – sign language and throwing in the odd bit of French also helped!  Previously I had invited them to my house for dinner, and was corrected when I told them the time to arrive – I said 7pm and they told me that they would normally arrive between 7.30 – 8pm!  They also asked for salt to put onto their grilled fish and, as I didn’t have a salt-cellar I gave it to them in a little dish.  The next day a cruet set was presented as a gift – nothing goes unnoticed!
The order of food is always meze (lots of great tasting dishes such as stuffed peppers, stuffed vine leaves, fresh anchovies, aubergine cooked in a tomato sauce, yoghurt with aubergine and garlic, samphire, chillied yoghurt, plus many more depending on the restaurant or the season), followed by a large chunky salad and freshly cooked fish or seafood.
I spent the morning yesterday in the restaurant of a friend, learning how they cook some of their meze.  Fava, a broad bean dip made with dried broad beans, is cooked like a lentil soup them mashed, literally by hand, with huge amounts of chopped dill, before being served, drizzled with olive oil - it's delicious.  But the main thing I wanted to learn was how they made their famous Halva, a very sweet hot dish that is served for dessert sprinkled with chopped nuts.  Grated pistachio halva is mixed with milk and a little oil which is then poured into a shallow oven-proof dish and grilled – it’s like spooning hot caramel into your mouth – if you don’t have a sweet tooth please be warned! 

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