What Happens in the Hamam, Stays in the Hamam.

*again I sincerely apologize for a lack of posting.  I’ve snatched my husbands computer for a bit so I can type up something…it may not be the best writing, but that’s because I have to finish before he gets back!!

True to my blog name, I finally was able to “do as the turks do” in the truest sense…

I visited a hamam!

I was only somewhat sure of what to expect (thanks to movies), and I was a little anxious to see how it would go.  Especially since I am a little weird about people touching me (I loathe manicures/pedicures!).  Well, to make a long story short- I loved it!

Lets go through the play by play.

Arrival

Upon arrival at this super fancy hamam (newly built, more like a typical spa from the outside), the whole building was divided in half. One side said “women” and the other side said “men”.  Right out of the gate, I was pleased.  Guys aren’t even allowed in the female reception!

At this hamam, we paid for all of our treatments upfront.  Since there was a package deal, I went for the two massage and entrance packet.  All in all, it added up to 99TL (around 30$ that day). They gave us an electric bracelet to open our lockers electronically, and then rubber wrist bands that corresponded to the treatments we purchased.  I went for a coffee massage (I have very dry skin) and the kopuk/kese massage.

Kese is a special mitt used for exfoliating dead skin.  This beats anything else I’ve ever used in my entire life.

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Kopuk (with dots on the o and u) means foam, so basically they used soap suds.

 

Hamam

If you know nothing about hamams, let me give you a super fast explanation.

They hail from the Ottoman Empire.  They were a form of public baths when indoor plumbing wasn’t a thing.  Typically marble, they are completely closed and very hot, with fountains all around for pouring water to clean yourself.  Sometimes (normally, now) there would be workers there to help clean you (wash your back etc).  They have a long history in the Ottoman Empire, including lore such as men smashing their hands on the marble to increase their fist size and strength for battles.  Maybe longer than the history are the proclaimed benefits of the hamam!

One thing crucial to the hamam experience is the pestemal (peshtemal), a thin towel used to cover yourself in the hamam. Usually you wear a swim suit these days, but back in the day it wasn’t so!

pestemal

I don’t want to say all, since this is my first hamam experience, but most (if not all, based on movies etc) hamams have the same layout. A raised platform in the middle, with sinks and fountains on the outer edge, along with a bench.  Here’s a general idea.

ab-zen-spa-hamam

The one we went to had a different color scheme (white, grey, and blue), but generally it was the same.

Along with the hamam room, most places have the typical sauna, steam room, etc.

So we set ourselves around a fountain and threw water on ourselves (and cold water on each other!) until it was time for the kese.

Massage and spa treatments

So removing half of my swimsuit wasn’t as traumatic as I thought it would be, since everyone else seemed pretty cool with it! We were taken to another room just off the hamam (no door) where the platforms were table sized, and situated beside a sink.  This is where the magic happened!

The workers (all old-ish ladies, maybe in their 50s?) got to scrubbing! They rolled you around like it wasn’t even a big deal. Starting from your back, down your legs, to your feet, then they turned you on your side and did the same, onto your front, on your remaining side, and scrubbed all the way down to your fingers and toes. I felt like a rotisserie chicken! But a clean chicken.  You thought you were exfoliating back home- oh no! I don’t want to describe how much they managed to scrub away, but I think I could form a small child from what remained behind after the kese.

The kese was followed by a coffee massage, which sounds exactly how it was.  Coffee grinds steeped in hot water were rubbed all over, ALL over, over the course of 20 minutes or so.  They were tugging on my arms and hands and feet, I thought I would pop apart!  They were not gentle. But in a good way! (picture is for an idea, obviously not me or the place I went lol)

coffee-chocolate-massage-procedure-woman-beauty-salon-spa-48338077

After the coffee massage came the soap suds massage.  This one was much more gentle, in my opinion.  I was amazed at how they used a large, very thin towel to whip up huge soap suds and squeeze them onto you.  This took another 20 minutes.

After all was said and done, I was sent back to the hamam room to wash myself with my own soap and shampoo.

The aftermath

Ya’ll, my skin was beet red!  I looked like a tomato!  But after sleeping, I woke up and my skin was refreshed and bright, even my face (thanks to the coffee treatment)!  Unfortunately, I ended up having a worse head cold than I started with (I guess sitting in steam for hours then going into slightly brisk weather will do that to you?)…but it was worth it!

Definitely will go again!! Maybe now I will have the strength to finish the school year?

Sihhatlar olsun!

*Disclaimer: Not all hamams are created equal. Be sure to do your homework about the services offered, the hygiene of the facilities, and what you need to bring vs what they provide for you!

 

 

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Turkey 245: Your Guide to Snacks pt 1

Say what you will about Turkey, but their snack game is fierce. 

I wouldn’t consider myself too much of a junk foodie. I’m not so much into cookies and cakes, and only a few chips tickle my fancy. That is, until now! 

How is it possible that I love Turkish junk food so much? 

Anyway, check out my (long overdue) faves list below. Make sure to check the description for any American dupes! Cheap subs are not just for makeup anymore… 

Dude. These chips tho. Specifically Patos sweet chili pepper… Corn chips with a zing, this tastes just like cool ranch doritos for half the price! 

I’ve found this at bakals (corner stores) and Migros

Eti cin (et-E-jin) 

My, hands down, favorite cookie. It’s a shortbread cookie with a gummy orange center and sprinkles.  There are other flavors but orange is the real OG. This is special to Turkey and I need to bring some back with me! 

Found in  bakals and Migros 

Cerezza (cheese and onion) 

Think crunchy cheetohs… But sour cream and onion.  That’s cerezza  PEYNİR AND SOĞAN flavor.  This gets 5 stars from us,  as it’s our favorite junk food. 

Found in bakals and migros

(sorry the next pictures are upside down… I have no idea why…) 

 I’m not a stranger to haribo (in America the Turkish made haribo were the only gummies without pork gelatin that I could find).  The classics are delicious! But there’s also FIZZ haribo! A haribo with a lemon sour sugar coating that is ever so slightly effervescent.  The fizz worms are my favorite (not seen here). 

Found in bakals,  some A101, Kipa, and Migros

I’m not big on chocolate,  but these are really good.  Cookies with milk chocolate stars and white chocolate filling.  They’re a bit rich but perfect when you have a craving. They are my favorite chocolate cookie.   

Found in some bakals, Kipa, and migros

 Not your momma’s rice cakes.  These are a mix of corn and rice that look like standard rice cakes, but taste like lightly salted, no butter popcorn.  A good snack for those wanting something salty but low calorie. 

Found in migros. 

Most of these can probably be found in Kipa or any other large general store, but I never bothered to check for anything but the ones listed as “found in kipa”.  

I’ll probably have a few installments of this as I eat more and more junk :).  

Happy New Year! (plus a Güveç recipe) 

Today we rung in the new year with one of my all time favorites! Enjoy!


Ingredients
 

1 kg cubed beef

2 small onions, diced

4 Charleston peppers, diced

3 sweet sıvı peppers, diced 

5 tablespoons crushed tomato

2 tablespoons tomato /pepper paste

Sunflower (or canola) oil

Butter, margarine, or tereyağ 

Salt to taste

Cumin to taste

Black pepper to taste

Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

**note: you should use a stoneware pot (it’s not 100% necessary but does make a big difference**

Preparation

1. Cube the beef to the size of your thumb.  Stew beef can be used for this recipe, as can a lean cut.  I prefer stew beef. 

2. Put oil and butter in a 3:1 ration (oil:butter), enough to cover the bottom of your pot with about 1cm standing. Add the meat and close the lid, cooking on high.  Stir occasionally until the meat is nearly browned (it’s OK to have some raw spots). 

3. Add the tomato or pepper paste (or a blend) and stir, letting the paste melt into the simmering oil/butter/grease. Prepare your arteries mentally.  

4. Add the diced onions and peppers.  Also add your spices and salt (personally, I like 2tsp black pepper, 1tsp cumin, 2tsp crushed red pepper, and 2/3 tablespoons of salt.  The salt is determined by if there is salt in your paste or not.)  Cover and let cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are soft. Around 8 minutes. 

5. Add boiling water until the meat is just sticking out of the water.  Cover the exposed meat with the crushed tomatoes.  DO NOT STIR . Simply press the tomato lightly into the water. 

6. Cover the mouth of your pot with tinfoil, putting the lid over the tinfoil to create a seal. You should see the foil poof up from the steam.  Move your pot to the smallest eye of your stove, and turn it on low. It should barely be seeping out steam from the lightness of the boiling inside (this is crucial!). Let cook for about 1.5 –  2 hours on low until meat is tender. 

Serve with warm bread or rice. Maybe some pickles too! 

You can’t go wrong with Güveç! 

Afiyet olsun! 

 

Season of Salad

While summer is usually when you’re looking for something cool and refreshing like salad, most greens flourish in the winter months. 

 I’m a huge lover of salad.  All salad. Beet salad, bean salad, potato salad, cease salad, dinner salad, chicken salad…  Come at me bro.  One thing I had never tried before coming to Turkey, however, was boiled celery salad. 

And was I missing out! 

What is actually found in Turkey is celeriac, a type of celery grown for it’s root rather than the stalks (the latter being the one we know and love in the US).  There is a slight taste difference (in that the celeriac has a stronger flavor) and I think I like celeriac better. 

Much more interesting! Because: salad! 


Ingredients

1 celery root/stalks, chopped 

1 carrot, chopped

4 cloves garlic, grated 

Salt to taste

Olive oil to taste

Lemon juice to taste 

Preparation

1. Boil the chopped celery root and stalks (or just the leftover stalks if you need the root for something else) and chopped carrot together.  Boil until soft. 

2. Drain the water (which can be reserved for soup if you like). Let the celery and carrot cool in a bowl/on a plate. 

3. Grate your garlic onto the boiled veggies.  Don’t limit yourself.  The only thing better than 4 cloves of garlic is 5 cloves of garlic. Add olive oil, lemon juice (from a lemon! That preserved stuff is gross), and salt. 

4. Mix well and serve luke warm or cold. 

Afiyet olsun! 

My Mouth-Watering, Indulgence-Worthy, Im-Going-To-Gain-20lb Turkish Food Favorites

Wow, that title was a mouthful.

… Get it?

One of the questions I get asked most often when people find out I’m foreign is “what’s your favorite Turkish food?”.  I never know what to say, because I can’t really chose a stand-alone favorite.  I do have a few dishes ready that I list off when this inevitable query is mentioned.  Some days I prefer one over the other, but it’s all just on a whim.  Honestly, whenever I see one of these dishes on the table, I immediately have a smile on my face!

These are my top ten favorite foods, broken down into their respective categories.  I didn’t include things that we also eat in the US (like kumpir/baked potato and the like).

Main Dish

1. DOLMA: If you don’t like dolma, we can’t be friends.  A variety of vegetables fall under the category “dolma”, but they all have one thing in common: they are stuffed with rice, herbs, spices, and sometimes meat (depending on your recipe).  Boiled/steamed,  the rice is cooked and the flavors of the vessel veggie are trapped inside.  You can find pepper, onion, tomato, eggplant, dried eggplant, grape leaf (aka sarma), and cabbage dolmas, among others.  My favorites are sweet red pepper, dried eggplant, and sarma!

Oh,  the remaining water after boiling makes an excellent soup with a few additions!
2. ISKENDER: A shaved meat dish similar to döner, these meat is laid on a bed of soft pita bread and drowned in tomato sauce, chhhsssss melted butter,  and a side of plain yogurt.  Unfortunately this meal tends to be a bit pricey compared to its sandwich counter part.  For us it is a special indulgence… A delicious, fattening indulgence.
3. KARNIYARIK: Lightly fried eggplant halves filled with a ground beef mixture then baked.  There is something about fried eggplant (without breading)  that is just… Amazing. So soft, so velvety, somewhat sweet…mhm.  Whenever we eat something fried, we usually serve it with yogurt and a salad. The spices, herbs, onion, and other additions to the meat mixture make it flavorful without being overwhelming and losing the flavor of the eggplant.
4. KÖZLEME PATLICAN: Speaking of eggplant… Fire roasted eggplant.  Oh. My. Gosh. You can’t jar the flavor of eggplants actually cooked over an open flame.  We roasted a few kilos of eggplant from our garden last summer and froze it for the winter.  I prefer mine drowned in garlic yogurt, mixed with olive oil, parsley, mint, cumin, red pepper flakes, and black pepper.  I mean,  dang. Hubby likes it without the yogurt and adding tomato. But… But… Garlic yogurt!
5. BEZELYE YEMEĞİ :We all remember pushing peas around our plates as kids… But no one will be turning up their nose at this! A classic sulu (with water) food, bezelye yemeği consists of chopped and sautéed onions, carrots, and potatoes, swimming in a tomatoe-y broth with the peas happily joining in the fray. This is my favorite of the “standard” (I call sulu foods standard because everything can be made like this lol) Turkish meals. You can also add ground beef!

Breakfast

6. BİBERLİ LOR :Nom. Nom. Nom. This is a great way to give in to my cheese addiction. Lor is basically ricotta cheese, and biberli lor is ricotta cheese mixed in with sautéed peppers. Heat it all up together and make sure there is plenty of olive oil! I hope you aren’t worried about gaining a few pounds…
7. ÇILBUR :This mix sounds weird but I swear it is delicious. Pan cooked eggs (no milk, not beaten, and not quite fried… Just oil and eggs cooked until it’s not runny) smothered in plain yogurt (and if you have caught on to my preferences… Garlic is an option for a lunch time meal). I like to drizzle a sauce made from butter and salça (like manti) on top.

Dessert

8. MUHALLEBI : Basically a very light, plain pudding that I just love.  It’s almost fluffy because it’s made with rice starch instead of corn or wheat.  Add a little sakiz, and I’m in heaven!
9. AYVA TATLISI : Poached quince with cinnamon and whipped cream.  Hello, delcious!
10. BAKLAVA : No list of delicious Turkish foods is complete without baklava. I’m pretty picky about it, though! I like mine to be crunchy, flaky, and not drown in sugar syrup!  And while you’re at it, make it with walnuts.  I know for some it is sacrilege, but I really like walnuts…

Anyway, when you get the chance give these a try! I hope you didn’t gain a few kg just reading!

Honorable mentions (you’ll have to look up for yourself!): Cig kofte, mercimek kofte, patlican yemegi, kisir, bamya yemegi, yayla corbasi…ok I need to stop or I’ll list everything!

A Very Turkish Taco

I love Mexican food. 

But not just Mexican, that tex-mex/ ‘Murica style Mexican that you get at chain Mexican restaurants (Tijuana Flats, anyone?). 

Turkey, being on the other side of the world from both America and Mexico, doesn’t really have the comfort foods I’m looking for, by way of taco and salsa.  So, I’ve endeavored to make the ultimate mash-up: Turkish/Mexican/American hybrid! And so the Taco Böreği was born.  This may already be a thing, but the way I do it is likely not.  Basically, fill a kol böreği with taco meat+seasoning and grated cheese.  

For a less basic explanation,  scroll right on down. 

Taco Böreği (for 4 large portions) 

Ingredients:

2 yufka

1/4 kg ground beef

1 large onion, chopped 

4 Charleston peppers (long green peppers), choppee

2 tomatoes, chopped

Approx 1c water

2tbsp tomato paste

2 cloves garlic, chopped 

Grated cheese, as much as you like (I like Bergama tulum, 2.5c)

Dollop of olive oil for cooking

Cumin

Salt

Black pepper

Crushed pepper flakes

1/2c milk

1 small egg

1/3c oil for brushing

Preparation

1. Cook onions and pepper with a dash of salt in a dollop of olive oil.  The meat will also produce oil, so don’t put too much! 

2. Once the veggies are nearly translucent, add the meat and break it up in the pan. Add the water and chopped tomatoes and mix well, bringing to a simmer for 6 or 7 minutes or until the beef is browned. Add the spices as you like, the tomato paste, and garlic. Let cook for another two minutes or until the paste has soaked up the water and oil. 

3. Grease a round dish (approximately 9in diameter) and whisk the oil, milk, and egg into a wash in a separate dish.  Open the yufka on the table and spread the wash over it (you can be conservative, as the meat mix is already oily). Cut the yufka down the middle, forming 2 equal sized half moons.  Fold the rounded, uncut side of the yufka toward the cut end, 1/3 of the way in.  Now you have an, approx 2 inch double layer of yufka and 3 inches single layer.  Take a spoon full of meat and strew it along the double layer, end to end.  Sprinkle cheese across the top of the meat.  Now roll the yufka into a tube, holding the meat inside. 

4. Twist the yufka into a pinwheel shape in the dish, adding to the tail end with the remaining 3 yufka halves (filling them as described in step 3).it’s OK if it doesn’t fill the dish.

5. Dab the egg wash on top of the yufka so that it will brown.  Pop in the oven at 200c for approximately 30 minutes or until the bottom and top is brown. 

Serve with salsa, yogurt, lettuce, guacamole… Or any taco toppings you love! 

Afiyet olsun! 

Check back next week for the recipes to my roasted pepper salsa and peach chutney salsa! 

Turkey 402: Tips from a Turkish Kitchen 

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these Turkey lessons posts… So I thought I’d bring yall some tips and tricks that I’ve picked up since I’ve gotten here that you can use in the kitchen.  The kitchen is my second home, and often where I feel most comfortable.  Making the transition from the US to Turkey was actually really hard for me when it came to cooking, as you probably saw in past posts.  The salt wasn’t as salty.  Propane heats differently than electric.  Spices here taste a bit different.

But with the struggles came little “hacks” that can be used internationally!

I wish I knew these when I was still in the US…

Olive oil as an air-tight lid

Did you know that a thin layer of olive oil can make your pastes and cheeses (like ricotta) stretch for very near eternity? Since oil seals out air, it can keep mold and spoilage bacteria from growing at refrigerator temperatures.  However, that doesn’t mean you can leave a layer on and let it sit in your fridge untouched for a millenia.  Anaerobic (not needing air) organisms can still grow, meaning it’s important to still use your product and break that seal every now and again.

For example, I buy huge cans of tomato paste (that’s just how they come here… And they also have no salt here either!!) and it’ll grow mold in a few weeks.  Yeah,  I use it every two or three days, but there’s like 5 cups in that can and I use max 1tbsp at a time.  Using oil as a seal is great in this case.  Lor is another place I use this trick (check out my Turkish cheese post for details).

Putting spices and garlic last

Whenever I look at recipes I usually see people sautéing onion and garlic together at the beginning of a recipe.  But did you know if you throw in that garlic last, you get a much stronger flavor? The punch of garlic can cook out of your food, so what I’ve seen (and do) is to grate your garlic (or mash in a mortar) directly into the pan, turn off the heat,  and cover.  The residual heat will make the garlic cook to softness without losing the flavor.  Also add your spices towards the end so they keep their strength!

Sugar and tomatoes

Where you have tomatoes (particularly konserve or canned tomstoes), you have a bit of sourness.  Add a sprinkle of sugar to cut it down.  Also, as my mother in law says, wherever you see tomatoes and olive oil cooked together (without meat), and some sugar to bring the dish to the next level.

Dry your lemon rind.

Squeezed the hell out of your lemon? Wait,  don’t toss the rind! Leave it in the refrigerator or a cool dry place to let it dry out.  The beauty (and medicinal properties ) of a lemon is in the oil trapped in the rind.  Dried lemon is great to add to tea. If you don’t want to dry it, you can also use the leftover rind to shine your pots and remove those multi colored water stains.

Olive oil+lemon+garlic= God’s dressing

When you’re staring down the barrel of dinner and you have no idea what to do- you can boil/steam (or sometimes fry) ANY VEGETABLE and dress it with this combo and have a successful dish. Cauliflower? Yes.  Broccoli? Yes.  Celery? Yes. Whatever börülce is in English? Yes.  Squash? Fried, but still yes.  Potatoes? Yes.  Accommodate  your resident vegan/vegetarian when they show up for a visit (yes, you. You know who you are! ).  Plus, garlic.  Do you even need a reason?!

When in doubt, stew it out.

You saw this on my last recipe post.  Before I learned the great secret of sulu (stewed) everything, I would struggle to plan for dinner.  What do I need to buy? Oh no I forgot something! I don’t have time for that… Never fear.  Stewing suits all veggies and you have only a few ingredients.  Onions, peppers, oil, tomato paste, your veg and spices of choice.  I like a little tomato and carrot too, but if you’re hurting you don’t even have to do that.  Eggplant? Stew it.  Potatoes? Stew it.  Peas? Stew it.  Green beans? Stew it.  Okra? Do you even have to ask?… And if you are feeling fancy, add a little meat.  Never worry about dinner again.

Don’t dump the water!

Noodle water, dolma water, hell, even whey from making cheese or yogurt can ALL be used to make soup.  Never waste cups of water/juice again! You get the benefits from starch, oil, and/or flavorings (depending on what you’re using) to make a soup that recycles every bit of waste from your kitchen. And it tastes even better than using plain water in your soup recipe! While you are at it, recycle that leftover rice that no one is eating in soup as well!

Do you have any kitchen tips/tricks/hacks that you want to share? Leave them in the comments below!

Traditional Dry Beans and Lamb

 Hubby brought a whole sack of lamb home the other day; apparently someone he knows had a kurban (sacrifice) and some of the meat came to us!

What is this? An alien?!

At first I was pretty intimidated, I had no idea what to do with it!  it was roughly butchered (as in, whole large cuts of meat), and some parts I couldn’t identify. Some of it was very fatty too (as lamb is prone to be). But if I’ve learned anything, it’s :

When in doubt- stew it out!

So I decided to take some good old fashioned dry beans, and make it even more traditional by throwing in some cubed lamb, specifically the super fatty parts!

Between you and me (I would never admit this to anyone), I used to not be able to cook dry beans.  I wanted to be fancy and add too much to it.  But when you add, it just takes away from the flavor!

There’s nothing like a good ol’ dry beans.  Even in the dog days of summer, it’s always welcome on our table! When I make beans, I make A LOT! Plenty enough for five people or more (even though it’s just the two of us right now).

Ingredients

2c dry beans

2 onions (one whole, one diced)

4 peppers (spicy or not, as you like)

3tbsp tomato paste

3 tbsp oil

2c lamb meat, for stew

water

salt to taste

pepper to taste

Preparation

  1. Either soak the beans over night, or boil them hard (salted, I use 2 tsp salt) for an hour (after half an hour some may be floating, add water to the pot to knock them down, at that time add one whole onion).  I typically use 2:1 ration for water to beans.  But it is really up to you and how watery you want your beans to be.  I usually end up having to add more water down the line anyway…so don’t worry too much about it.
  2. Throw the stew lamb meat into the pot of water, beans, and onion.  If you soaked over night, then start cooking at this point, adding the onion and stew meat at the same time. Let the pot boil while you do step 3.
  3. Dice the remaining onion and pepper (I cut them to the size of my pinkie), and sautee in a pan with the olive oil* and a dash of salt. Add tomato paste and cook until everything melds together. Spoon water from the boiling pot into the tomato paste/veggies pan until the contents are a slurry.
  4. Pour the slurry into the boiling pot and mix well.  Cover and let boil on low for up to 6hrs (depending on how tough your lamb is.  Don’t be afraid to go back and check every hour or so!). Add salt and pepper as needed, towards the end.
  5. Turn off the heat and let sit for half an hour.

 

Serve with pickles and fresh bread.

Afiyet olsun!

Yayla Corbasi

Sometimes, regardless of the weather, you crave something.

Today, it was yayla corbasi for me!  Despite the hot weather, I was dying for some soup!  This one happens to be a favorite of mine, featuring egg and yogurt (of all things)!  Also, it was a good way to make use of that leftover water I strained out of the pasta I boiled earlier.

Yeah, that’s a thing!

As is true to form, I don’t measure anything…so this is just an approximation 😉

Ingredients

~7c water

1c orzo (arpa sehriye)

1 chicken buillion cube

1 heaping tbsp butter

2 c yogurt

1 egg

2 tbsp flour

Drizzle of olive oil

salt (to taste)

dried mint (to taste)

 Preparation

1. Put approximately 6c water in a pot and bring it to a boil.  Cook orzo noodles in the water with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.  If available, use whatever leftover water you have from boiling noodles too, nixing the added salt and oil. Cook until the orzo is soft.

2. Add butter and bullion to the boiling water, making sure it is thoroughly dissolved.

3. Temper flour with 0.5c cold water, or enough to make a slurry. Mix water slowly into the flour, making sure to eliminate clumps.  Once the slurry is prepared, add spoonfuls of the hot soup water slowly to the slurry, bringing up the temperature.  After 2 or 3 spoonfuls/stirs, slowly pour the mixture into the pot, stirring well as you do (this also prevents clumps).  Let it boil for a few minutes.

4. Whisk together yogurt and egg very well.  Add approximately 0.5c of cold water to the yogurt and egg, diluting to a slurry. Again, make sure that everything is homogenous! Add spoonfuls of the hot soup water to the yogurt mixture, stirring well (I use the big mixing spoon for this).  After 3 or 4 (large) spoonfuls, pour the mixture into the pot, stirring well. Let it boil again.  This time, it should produce foam.  Boil for only a few minutes.

5. Turn off the heat, and add salt and dried mint to taste.

Afiyet olsun!

 

Here Comes The Groom, Dancing To The Tune! 

I don’t know about ya’ll, but my family isn’t very close.  I barely speak to my own aunts and uncles, let alone cousins and whatnot.

So imagine my surprise when a wedding came up (on the Turkish side!) a little like this:

So and so is having her wedding and we are invited!

Who?

So and so, you know, your husband’s grandmother’s sister’s granddaughter’s child!

…right.  So, family.

But it was amazing!!! Unfortunately I missed the kina gecesi because I was dead on my feet after traveling back from the beach all in a hurry for the festivities.  But the wedding was fantastic!

Fantastic, and very different.  Let me run you through the events to show you just how different a wedding in Turkey is from an American one! Honestly, I think the only thing in common is the white dress, the throwing of the bouquet, cake, and signing a piece of paper!

Let me start by saying that we were related to the bride, so everything I witnessed is from the bride’s side.

First off, the close (ish) family met at the bride’s mother’s house while the bride was getting ready at the salon.  Both men and women from the bride’s side were present, and dressed. We were fed pide and ayran (I guess you could be fed anything?) while family members trickled in as they finished getting ready. The last to show up was the bride, in her full gown and makeup/hair.  She was ready to go! She sat in a chair in the middle of the room and tried to eat a bit while we waited.

What were we waiting for? THE GROOM! (check out my instagram for the video).  Lo and behold, I hear drums and some kind of woodwind instrument.  I was rushed to the balcony to see the wedding party (grooms side) and the groom in his full suit coming with musical accompaniment.  

He entered the house and the bride’s uncle (because her father is no longer with us) tied a red ribbon around the brides waist.  They both gave him the respectful kiss of the hand and pressed his hand to their foreheads, as is tradition. Then the bride dropped her veil and was led from the house.  Before getting into a car decked out in wedding goodies (much like the car our couples drive away in, but at the end) they danced together in Turkish fashion (instagram video).  As the bridal procession started to drive away, an auntie on the bride’s side splashed a gallon of water after them, and another threw coins.

Then we piled into a rental bus and off to the wedding salon we went!

After the huge salon was filled, the bride and groom made their entrance. 

 Everyone danced- A LOT. Sometimes it was brides side, sometimes grooms side, but everyone danced! My favorite part of the dancing is that there is a guy with a big drum that gets in there. I wish I had a picture.  It was great.  Sometimes he would be on the ground banging the hell out of the drum.  People would throw paper money (some real, some fake) over the bride and groom, which was collected for the MC who was managing the music (and the very lively drummer!).

After some dancing (slow dancing and also Turkish style), a pause in the festivities was taken for the legal bit.  The couple were sat at a table, and asked if they wanted to be married (like vows, but it didnt sound like our kind of vows?). They both said yes, music played, and they signed their marriage booklet.  Then they cut a cake (like we do), and some more dancing happened.

Eventually the bride and groom stood wearing sashes for money and gold to be pinned on them.  The guests lined up and pinned money, hung gold bracelets and jewelry, etc. on the couple. 

More dancing, woohoo! Including cultural dances that I didn’t know how to do… 

Finally, at the very very end, after dancing for around 3hrs straight, the couple held a large Turkish flag, and everyone sang the Turkish anthem (except me! GOD BLESS AMERICA! :P)

My ears rang all night, and into the next day!

But…now I kind of want one too.