Tag Archives: raki

The Barbun Challenge

11 Feb

Over my years in Istanbul I’ve fallen in love with balik (fish) restaurants.  Ask anyone what goes with balik and you’ll hear the word raki; the delicious national drink of Turkey.  I had to break-up with raki while I was pregnant but one week ago we met again. I missed raki and I think raki missed me too. It’s said two people strangers are no longer after a glass or two, or three of raki.

On Friday we went to my favorite area for fish; the Besiktas Balik Pazari.  Fish restaurants surround a small bazar where you can find fresh fish and produce.  It’s one of those places in the movies where two people fall in love.  Yes it’s that picturesque!

Credit: The Guide Istanbul

Here are the steps to a successful evening at a fish restaurant:

1) Sit down and order your preferred bottle of raki.  One large bottle for four people should be sufficient.

2) Select your cold mezes (small plates) I suggest a variety: eggplant, marinated sea bass, octopus salad, a yogurt dip, rice stuffed clams, spicy tomato salsa, ect.

3) Start drinking your raki!!!!!

4) After stuffing yourself with cold mezes, order your hot mezes.  I enjoy calamari or prawns in butter.

5) Drink raki while you contemplate if you’ve left enough room for the fish course.

6) Order your fish.  By this time I’m usually stuffed full of bread and raki, and in a near meze coma we order fish for the table.  My favorite is sea bass, but red mullet (barbun) is starting to grow on me.

Hey there little fish

Hey there little fish

Barbun is a small fish.  They are fried and served WHOLE.  There is nothing like your food staring you in the eye.   My one challenge is getting the yummy meat from the barbun without getting bones or head.  As a novice I’d use my fork and knife  ended up with a pea sized amount of meat on my fork.  Last Friday I finally mastered the most effective way to eat barbun.  I’ll use my video and not my words to explain it all!


First Impressions

20 Sep

I’ve lived in Turkey for a little over three years and I still can’t speak Turkish.  It’s a bit embarrassing.  Now that I’m home with Willy Wonka I thought I might take some Turkish lessons.  It could be fun to shock my in-laws with a few ACTUAL Turkish sentences.  Right now I just throw a few words together and gesture a lot.  It’s like I’m constantly playing a game of charades.  So today I decided to look back on my old Turkish notebook.  It’s a big mess of Turkish vocabulary and grammar paired with a few journal entries from when I first moved to Turkey.  Here are a few of my first impressions of Turkey from when in I lived in Antalya.

June 13, 2009

Who knows if I can make it here for another six months or even a year.  I will try my hardest but everything is what you make of it.  Some thoughts:

My teeth are getting stained.  It’s gross, but I can’t stop drinking khave and çay (tea and coffee).  Good thing I know the word beyaz (white), so I can ask for the “beyazing” strips at the store.

Turkish food is AMAZING.  I just wish EVERYTHING wasn’t tainted with parsley.  I’m really into lamb chops, yogurt, rice, salad, and most of the other food.  It just seems all the restaurants serve the same thing.  Here there is a standard, it just varies in quality from place to place.  Someone needs to find something crazy to do with köfte (meatballs).  Finally, the desserts need some revamping.  Give me chocolate!

Traditional women who work in the fields appear all the same.  All have extremely colorful cotton pants, a mismatched shirt, and a head scarf.  Typically they are overweight although it looks like they’ve been on their feet for too many hours or carried too much weight. They walk like they are in pain.  Their leg bone structure resemble the St. Louis Arch or like they’ve just been on a very long horse ride.

I still haven’t found a moment to cook Turkish food this week. I do now realize there is a wonderful variety of Turkish food.  Parsley has grown on me, although I do prefer that people use it in moderation.  There are also many ways to cook kofte.  

One of my favorite old pictures. A few guys just sharing some raki. They found a way to beat the heat.


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Postcards from Istanbul

Istanbul Experiences and Insights

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Growing Up Willy Wonka