A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: jhl5006

Hamsi season

Yesterday we had a lovely fish dinner in Karaköy, right by the ferry pier.



It was a laid back place with great food for cheap, which is always what I go for. I got hamsi (anchovies), my favorite.

I'm not normally into fried food, and hamsi can definitely be grilled, but this time I went for the hamsi tava, or fried anchovies. You eat the whole fish, head to tail because all the bones are so small. With lemon juice and top and a hunk of raw onion, yes raw, and greens to munch on on the side (I just use my hands and eats the greens like a rabbit), it's delicious!


There's also a bunch of fish sellers along the way where you can get fresh catches to bring home.


After dinner we went to Karaköy Güllüoğlu, a famous baklava place. The lines were crazy so we didn't actually get anything but I snapped these pictures of Atatürk and the Turkish flag made from baklava.

Posted by jhl5006 08:54 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)



Mezes are basically appetizers. Many times in Turkish restaurants the waiters will carry out a plate or there is a display case where you can see all the different options and you'll choose a few before the main course. Personally I love to have just mezes as dinner because they are light and mostly vegetarian.


The closest thing to ezme that most people know is probably Gazpacho, the Spanish-style cold tomato soup. Like Gazpacho, you eat this cold, as with a lot of mezes. I cut the vegetables into smaller pieces and throw everything into a food processor. You can dip bread into it or just eat it alone like I do.



1 cucumber
2 tomatoes
3 green peppers (the kind in the picture below, not bell peppers, but if that's all you can find then use bell peppers)
1 onion
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon red pepper paste
2 tablespoons pomegranate sauce (hard to find so if you don't have it, use lemon juice)
2 tablespoons olive oil
dry mint

Posted by jhl5006 08:45 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Artsy Istanbul


There's a lot going on this week in Istanbul in the arts and entertainment category. I'm usually not so good at keeping up with it but this week I went to a few events. First, there was the European Day of Languages that was held at the Greek consulate. There were representatives from several language schools and consulates to promote their language classes. Among them were the Austrian Cultural Forum, the British Council, the Greek Consulate, the Swedish Consulate, the Czech Republic, the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, a Romanian Cultural Institute, the Goethe-Institut (for German), the Institut Français, the Cervantes Institute (for Spanish), the Italian Institute of Culture, and a language school called Tomer for Turkish. On each floor of the building there were different activities such as half-hour tester language classes, cultural dance and short films. I did a tester course for Turkish even though it was simple because at the moment I'm looking for a new language school to continue my Turkish classes. I also tried Czech because it brought me back to the days where I lived in Prague. And then I quickly remembered why I didn't pursue that language further....I mean just try pronouncing something like this: Teší mne, že Vás poznávám (And that just means pleased to meet you). I also checked out a couple short films by Spanish directors and watched some Greek dancing but escaped as soon as they asked for volunteers.


On the same day as the language fair, there was a big second hand book/flea-market type thing. Most of the books were Turkish but there were some English ones interspersed in there. It was also fun to look through the boxes of old photos and postcards, movie posters and maps.

After that, I checked out a documentary film festival.

All week at a few different locations around the city, they are showing free documentaries about various social issues from all over the world. The first one I saw was called "The Promise", by a German director, which explored marriage and what it means to different people. The film was in German with Turkish subtitles on top and English on the bottom. The guy in front of me's head did not allow for easy viewing of the English subtitles so I relied on reading the Turkish ones. I got most of it. After most of the films, the audience can ask the director some questions and a discussion session is started. The following day I went to see another film called 800 km Engelli (or 800 km hurdles in English). This one was about two disabled friends who do a roadtrip from Istanbul to a town in the south. On the way they explore how handicap accessible various tourist attractions public places are in Turkey. The day after that (I wanted to take advantage of these free documentaries because they are my favorite genre of film), I watched two films. One was called Beklemek (Waiting) which followed a few people affected by the earthquake in Van, in the east of Turkey, last year. The other was called Ashes of Davutpasa, about family members of victims of a factory explosion who are demanding a fair trial for acts of neglifence from the state. These are all heavy topics but ones you can learn from and achieve empathy for people by putting yourself in their situation and be more grateful for yours.

Posted by jhl5006 06:08 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Long time no see

It's been a long time since I've recapped my life in Turkey, actually since I first arrived in August 2010, so I have a lot to catch up on. I am now starting my third year in Istanbul and it's been a very fulfilling experience. I've done everything under the sun as far as work, from tutoring to nannying to teaching, with kids, adults and everyone in between, moved apartments from the noisiest spot in Istanbul on the famous Istiklal Caddessi in a bed-bug ridden room to a cramped one-bedroom pad in Cihangir with 5 cats and a nutty roomate, to finally earning my own two bedroom place on the more residential and comfortable Asian side. I've also met some amazing people and traveled to places like Greece, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Hungary, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and lots of spots in Turkey.

My friends and I went to Lebanon last February--We went to Beirut and Byblos a couple of places outside of Beirut.


Beirut, Lebanon



Just some of the staples of the Lebanese diet, which I could probably eat everyday: hummus, labneh, pita-type bread and olives.

I met my brother Russ in Italy in April. We planned a rende-vous on the train from Switzerland--I was coming from Zurich and he was coming from somewhere in the Swiss Alps. We went to Florence, drove through Tuscany, and ended up in Rome.


This is me on our wine tour in Tuscany:


Our time in Rome coincided with a soon-to-be married friend who wanted to use us as guinea pigs for his Roman history and gelato tour, which he would soon give for his wedding guests coming from the US. We gladly indulged.




In May I did a roadtrip with some of my friends through Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro....






Something that I've always been passionate about is food. Shopping for it, cooking it, eating it, sharing it with friends, and discovering new dishes in new places. Who would have thought I would end up in a country with one of the most interesting cuisines: Turkey. I love fresh, healthy, closest to its natural source, vegetarian food. I've learned a lot about Turkish cuisine from seed to table, thanks to my green-thumbed boyfriend with the same tastes and even more enthusiasm. We've had the fortune to work on a farm to grow some of our own veggies in a couple of greenhouses and I learned how much hard work it takes to grow truly "organic" produce.

I've also had access to bountiful farmer's markets around the city. Every city in Turkey has its own unique tastes and dishes. I've only so far scratched the surface in what it has to offer.

Posted by jhl5006 11:17 Comments (0)

Zeytinyağlılar (Olive oil dishes)

Olives and olive oil are very important in Turkey. Olives are eaten for breakfast (yes, breakfast. Try it.). Olive oil is used to cook veggies, meat, fish, is smothered on top of salads, mixed into dips and yogurt and mixed with garlic for all sorts of tasty dishes. There is a whole category in Turkish cuisine that for lack of better words is translated as "olive oil dishes". These are, yes you guessed it, cooked in olive oil. Most of the time they are served cold. Once you get the hang of them you can improvise a lot, which is what I do. I go to my nearest farmer's market, which I don't have to go very far for because the farmers set up shop right in front of my apartment building every Thursday, and I buy the freshest produce and experiment. Here are some recipes that I love. It might be hard to find some of these veggies in other countries, or they might not be local or as fresh, but you can vary it slightly depending on what's available.

Zeytinyağlı Taze Fasulye (fresh green beans)

2 lbs green beans
2 tomatoes
1 onion
2 pinches of sugar
1 cup hot water
3/4 cup olive oil
salt to taste

Wash the beans and cut off the ends. Cut the longer ones into two. Cut the onion into cubes and saute in olive oil. Add the beans. Dice the tomatoes and add them to the pan. Pour the hot water on top and add salt. Cover and cook on medium heat until they are soft. Serve cold.

Posted by jhl5006 09:56 Archived in Turkey Tagged recipes Comments (0)

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