Camper Food: Turkish Edition

We’ve finally made it to Turkey, where we’re taking a desperately needed break in Kilyos, a little beach town on the Black Sea (about 20 km outside of Istanbul).

After a three-week, visa-driven sprint through Italy and then a gnarly free-camp marathon through Croatia, Serbia and Bulgaria, all three of us are beat. Absolutely beat. We’ve been here a week at a modest little campground, just using their free wi-fi, reading, wandering around and eating.

Scout and I are the the big foodies of the team, and we’ve really been looking forward to getting to Turkey and exploring the cuisine. We haven’t been to too many restaurants yet, partly because our tight budget requires us to be thrifty, but also because we’ve been taking our time to acclimate to yet another culture and language. Mainly we’ve spent our time looking around and trying to chat with our Turkish neighbors, either in English or as much as one can in Turkish when one’s entire vocabulary consists of Iyi akşamlar, merhaba, lütfen, teşekkürler, çorba, balik, bir, paynir, pilav, su and çay. (Good evening, hello, please, thanks, soup, fish, one, cheese, rice, water and tea).

Anyway most of our meals have involved simply shopping at the local market (the owner there brings us tea from the mosque next door and then helps us with our Turkish) and then picnicking back at the campground under the shade of our awning.

Because of our impending propane shortfall, and also because of the hot weather, I’ve avoided cooking and just been putting out nosh-type spreads. Our regular meal usually has these components.

Ramazan pide bread, an unleavened flat-bread the size of a hubcap, soft but chewey. I don’t know if it’s available the rest of the year or just during Ramazan, but people line up before sunset and leave with bundles of pides wrapped in brown paper wrappers. We go to a particular bakery with cavernous glowing ovens and massive bread paddles the size of boat oars. The pides cost 1 .5 TL each (about .80 CAD or USD.)

 

Tomato salad (fresh tomatoes, chopped spicy peppers, parsley, a splash of vinegar). Quick and easy.

 

These are the peppers

 

Beyaz peynir, a salty white cheese made from unpasteurized sheep’s milk. It tastes similar to feta. Really good.

 

Köfte. These ubiquitous Turkish meatballs are the first food we ate in Turkey. They’re supposed to be grilled, but I don’t have a grill so I’ve been sauteing them on the stove. Definitely not as good as the grilled ones from the street vendors but tasty nevertheless.

 

Whole-milk yogurt. Markets in Turkey sell yogurt in tons of different styles and sizes, from small cups to fat drums.

 

 Turkish plums. They taste like sour nectarines. Scout loves them.

 

Efes Pilsen. Lovely on a hot day. I wasn’t sure whether it would be difficult to buy liquor in a country that’s 98% Muslim, but so far it hasn’t been a problem. The stores we’ve visited so far have all carried wine and beer.

That’s it for now. We’re heading to Istanbul tomorrow, at which point we’ll dive into a few restaurants! Scout and I can’t wait.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Zac August 15, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Thanks, my mouth is watering now. That cheese reminds me of halloumi, have you seen that in you travels at all? It has a meaty, rubbery texture but you can open grill it and it’s delicious.

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2 Renee August 16, 2011 at 6:08 am

Is it Turkish? I’ve never heard of it personally, but I’m seeing lots of different cheeses here I’ve never heard of.

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3 Zac August 16, 2011 at 4:45 pm

It’s actually from Cyprus originally, and popular in Greece, so I figured it would be all around that area. Watch for it!

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4 Renee August 20, 2011 at 5:17 pm

OK, thanks. Am keeping my eyes open for it.

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5 Maryanne August 16, 2011 at 6:20 am

Oh god, I do miss living in Turkey! The ramazan pide is only for ramazan so enjoy it while you can! Does yours have black sesame on it? That is lovely. And the cheese- in Turkish halloumi cheese is something like helim (can’t remember exactly). Great sauteed. Also try the otlu peynir- it’s a crumbly eastern cheese filled with herbs. Another thing you could do is to find a pied bakery and give them, say, an egg, green onions, some cheese, and they’ll make up a bunch of fresh hot pied for you. We did that for picnics. Yum!

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6 Renee August 16, 2011 at 7:28 am

I understand why you miss living here. It’s absolutely wonderful; I would move here in a heartbeat. My husband, Mark, is a project manager, and I’m going to encourage him to look for projects here once our trip comes to an end. I’m resisting the urge to start learning Turkish in serious way (unless Mark gets work here) because I’m trying to improve several other languages I already half-way know. Always spreading myself too thin linguistically…

Thanks for the fantastic food suggestions. Yes, we’re getting the black-sesame pide. Gorgeous. And I’ll look for the halloumi.

God I love this place .

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7 Mike Cantelon August 29, 2011 at 10:09 pm

Yum… The beer seals the deal: must get to Turkey someday.

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8 Renee August 31, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Good to hear, Mike. You won’t be disappointed. 🙂

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