It occurred to me today as I was eating possibly the best fish dish of my life that I’m in serious danger of blowing a New Zealand house deposit sum of money on food.
Then I thought to myself with no significant other in sight (seriously where the hell is he?) to buy a house with I mise well keep eating.
And that I did.
It was in Fethiye, a small coastal town in southern Turkey where I had this thought, right after buying a sea bass from their local fish market, taking it to one of the ubiquitous fish restaurants around it and getting them to cook it for me.
For the equivalent of $12 New Zealand dollars I get myself all of this.
I think it’s the simplicity of the Turkish food which makes it so genius.
Their traditional breakfasts, which are included pretty much everywhere you stay, are a strangely perfect combination of bread, jam, honey, cucumber, tomato, a hard boiled egg, cheese, olives, and yogurt.
But when you don’t have time for that there’s always simit. A bagel-type object coated with sesame seeds and costing the equivalent of 70 cents.
Then there’s their desserts. I’ve tried most of them apart from the one with chicken, yes chicken in it.
My favourites has to be the $7 mixed box of Turkish Delight I picked up at the Istanbul Spice Bazaar.
Of course I can’t talk about Turkish desserts without mentioning baklava.
My first piece somehow magically transported me back to my family dining room table in Nelson and the sensation of tucking into a piece of my Mum’s bacon and egg pie.
And, I’m not the only one who believes baklava has special powers. My Turkish friend told me that some new mums’ believe if they eat about 10 pieces of it a day they will produce copious amounts of breast milk.
Of course doctors’ dispute this and argue it’s the copious amounts of water your body needs after eating that much sugar that makes the milk.
I agree with the medical experts. After eating five pieces in one day I get the sugar shakes and the next day a full-blown sugar migraine. And like so many foods I binge eat, I haven’t been able to face it since.
Turkish coffee on the other hand is something I will never tire of. Like Vietnam they serve it short, minus the condensed milk.
I’m also fortunate enough that my Turkish friend just so happens to be judging the country’s barista competition while I’m in Istanbul, with the winner going on to represent Turkey at the world champs.
I don’t speak a drop of Turkish but I do speak the international language of coffee and happily spend a morning watching this guy in particular, who I reckon looks like the Michael Jackson of Turkish coffee, take out the title.
The next day my kiwi friend who lives and works in Istanbul takes me to Ortakoy, famous for its baked potatoes.
It’s an overwhelming experience. Basically a 50-metre row of same same potato stalls all yelling at me, “Lady Gaga, Lady Gaga.”
Seriously I couldn’t look less Lady Gaga in my jeans, hoodie and jandals, just the blonde hair.
As a end note, a reliable source told me a recent survey found that Turkish people eat for around four hours a day. I can attest to that. I can also tell you now when I get back to New Zealand that’s how much time I’m going to be spending at the gym each day to work it off my arse.