The sweets here are SO amazing... I have seen enough baklava to make my head spin, and the ice cream... oh, the ice cream. Really good and cheap, and it's everywhere. It's called dondurma, and it's a delicious cross between gelatto and custardy ice cream. And there are things like Turkish tiramisu and Turkish flan and gorgeous fruit tarts and waffles loaded down with chocolate and fruit and oh-my-waistline-can't-take-all-of-the-cute-places-that just-serve
-coffee-and-desserts... But you have an excuse when you travel, right?
We've had that and more. The table in the photo is covered in traditional Turkish foods, and at that point the entrees had been whisked away in favor of desserts. There were several kinds of dried fruits and nuts, and a custardy thing that reminds me a little bit of pumpkin pie filling with the texture, but tastes like caramelly heaven.
It was also really amazing, but I can't remember the name of it. We had really gracious hosts sharing al of this delicious food with us, and in the name of paying it forward!
I only hope to have the oppurtunity to do that for someone else one day, because it was exactly what many of us needed. There's something that
crosses over all
borders, politically and culturally speaking, about a home. Dorm rooms, resteraunts, and hotels just don't have that feeling that a family lives there and is ready to welcome you with open arms. Just the very essence of hospitality and relaxation you can find nowhere else are really spectacular, and you never know how much you miss it until you've been without it for a while.
The drinks are pretty amazing too. I think I talked about how Coke is made with real sugar, and that make it SO good!
There are tons of flavored mineral waters too, and I've even seen some juiceboxes.
In exploring and being a part of the nightlife here, we have experienced everything from neat hole-in-the-wall, non-touristy places where the alcohol* is really delicious and really cheap to traditional taverns to high-class places where you can feel the music. A traditional liquor we see everywhere here is Raki, and it's pretty nifty. I have only had it twice, but I like it a lot.
It tastes like black liqorice, and goes down very smooth. I had it the way Turkish people do, with melon and appetizers. It's got about the same proof as vodka but is much more delicious. Whiskey is pretty uncommon, but gin and vodka are readily available, and there are many DELICIOUS flavors of vodka... hazlenut and watermelon tie for favorite at the moment.
The beer everyone seems to love is called Efes, and it's comparable in flavor to a light beer, and in alcohol content to some heavier beers. As I am not a beer drinker, I havn't tried it, but I do have a baby mug our guide gave me as a souvenier!
We have one more week before we all head for different places, and 2 more weeks and I will be home. Tomorrow we leave for Cappadocia and our long excursion. I am beginning to see that one of the American professors here wasn't joking when he said Istanbul is a city that grabs hold of your heart and doesn't let go. I'm already thinking of when I could possibly come back!
*On the issue of alcohol:
I do my best not to make a secret of the fact that I drink. I am of legal age, and learned from long before I turned of age to treat alcohol responsibly. I am sorry if talking about alcohol offends the sensibilities of any of you, my darling readers, but I won't hide the fact that I drink every once in a while or appologize for it. When I do, it's socially and with people I know and trust. It's not responsible to do otherwise or get carried away. Moderation is my policy!