Suitcase and World: Food, glorious food.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Food, glorious food.

Turkish tea ("chai") which is THE symbol of Turkish hospitality. Everywhere you go - stores, hotels, restaurants - you're offered a serving and very often, for free. It's usually served as shown in the photo - in a very distinctively shaped glass, placed atop a ceramic saucer with a small teaspoon to stir in two cubes of sugar.

o say we ate well on this trip is an understatement. The truth is we ate like pigs....devouring each meal as if it was our last and we loved every single bite. In Turkey, we had an enormous variety of yummy foods to choose from - everything from meat kebabs and stews to seafood cooked in a variety of ways. There were plenty of desserts to satisfy our sweet tooth - from lokum (Turkish delight) to baklava to ice cream.

In Croatia, the food was very much influenced by Italian cuisine. Familiar foods like pastas, pizzas and risottos were commonplace menu items. For us though it was all about the seafood with the exception of the famed Dalmatian ham which is similar to Italian proscuitto. Ice cream was the dessert of choice - Croatia's version tastes a lot like Italian gelato.

Here's a photo gallery of some of the foods we ate on our trip....and yes, we shamelessly took time to snap photos before we ate :-)

Mussels. We ate a lot of them in Croatia. I don't know if it's because it's early in the season but there was little meat in comparison to the size of the shells. Not very filling but nonetheless, they were tasty.

Grilled squid. The best we had were at the Alka Restaurant in Trogir, Croatia.

Octopus salad. One of our favorite appetizers in Croatia. Eaten very simply with bread to sop up the juices, we couldn't resist ordering it whenever we saw it on the menu.

Dalmatian ham and olives. A very typical Croatian appetizer.

Salted sardines and olives. Our absolute FAVORITE Croatian appetizer. We had so many of these that at one point, we acutally had to make a concerted effort to try something else.

Grilled shrimp. The best we had were at the fish market in Fethiye, Turkey. They were so fresh and so simply cooked that the sweetness of the meat came through with every bite. Oh so good.

Kebab. We had döner and adana (meat)kebabs and chicken kebabs. In Turkey, kebabs are wrapped in lavash bread that's been lightly toasted on the grill. In some cases, the kebab meat is garnished with a pickle.

Piping hot, bubbling Turkish meat or seafood stews served in hot stone vessels. Oh, these were so tasty but we always had to be careful as we would easily burn our mouth on the hot liquid.

Fried mussels. Our colleague Serra told us we had to try these while we're in Istanbul. We had them on two separate occasions and savored every bite.

Lamacun ("lama-june"). A very, very thin crust Turkish pizza that's topped with very finely minced meat. My introduction to lamacun was at a restaurant in Selçuk,("Sell-chook") Turkey. I enjoyed it so much that I had it twice in a row!

Balik-ekmek. Turkish fish sandwich that is readily available from street vendors and restaurants alongside the Galata Bridge in Instabul, Turkey. Costing 4 YTL, they are cheap and tasty.

Breakfast! The typical Turkish breakfast for us was a boiled egg, bread, olives, cheese and a cup of tea. We often pigged out at breakfast so we would have fully bellies to get us going for the day. By far, the best breakfast was served at the Kelebek Pension in Göreme ("Ger-rem-mey"), Turkey.

Scampi. Lei ordered this at a restaurant in Šibenik("She-bah-nick"), Croatia. They were messy to eat but the meat was so tasty, it was worth all the napkins we had to use to clean up our hands.

Dil-beyin-tuzlama. That's how this dish was listed on the menu at a restaurant in Selçuk, Turkey. Translated into English by the waiter it was "sheep brain and tongue soup". I know it sounds gross but I like animal innards so this was just up my alley. I enjoyed the soup so much that I had it twice in a row. I sipped on the soup while nibbling on a Turkish bread, known as "Ramazan pide ("pee-day")" because it is usually eaten only during Ramadan but this particular restaurant that we went to serves it as a regular item on their menu.

Home cooked Turkish dinners. We had the privilege of having two home cooked meals at the Homeros Pension in Selçuk, Turkey. Two of the tastiest meals we had on our trip and all cooked by the mother of the man who ran the pension. Amazingly enough, she does all the cooking for the guests and they can number as many as 24. I don't know how she manages to do this every day of the year. What a treat it was to taste her cooking!

Lei and ice cream - friends made in heaven! I think she averaged two cones a day when it was available except in Fethiye, Turkey where she ate 5, yes count 'em 5, scoops at one sitting!! Lei's review of Turkish ice cream is that it has a bit of a "chewy" mouth-feel to it whereas Croatian ice cream is creamier, more like Italian gelato.

Lei enjoyied her cone on the boardwalk in Fethiye, Turkey and had her face lost in a cone in Hvar Town, Hvar, Croatia.

Veggies were not high on list of "must have" foods. This complimentary salad showed up at our dinner table in Fethiye. We ate a few leaves before diving into the seafood which was really what we wanted to stuff our faces with. The next night, we declined the salad before the waiter had a chance to even put the bowl down :-)

On the other hand, we hungered after fish at every opportunity. Sardines and anchovies were two of our favorites.

Lightly pickled sardines in Fethiye.

Grilled, whole seabass in Dubrovnik, Croatia.


Yours truly buying sardines at the fish market in Fethiye. I'm a bit picky when it comes to fish - has to be whole and has to be fresh.

The aforementioned sardines after they were lightly grilled. Smoky but still tasting of the sea. The accompanying arugula was just garnish for us - we didn't eat a single leaf.

Most times we were too stuffed after dinner to have any dessert so we had our sweet breaks in the afternoon. The Turkish desserts we had were usually either something akin to baklava or to lokum.

After 18 days of uncontrolled gluttony, we both returned home a few pounds heavier but we enjoyed every tasty morsel and if our waist lines would allow it, we'd pig out all over again!