Visit to Russia, my home country, brought fresh perspective on my life here in Turkey. As I described my Istanbul and Sapanca living over and over again to my Russian friends and relatives I got to realize a few things. Like in that professor who explained a theory so well that he eventually understood it himself.
There must be an explanation to the sweating at the kitchen to roll that fresh pasta instead of cooking a package of the store-bought one. To reading culinary books and planning your own endeavors when others are watching a new episode of Fatma Gülün Suçu Ne? (popular Turkish series). To yet another time twist the tried-and-proved recipe of the dish instead of just cooking it the way people already like it anyway? There must be a good reason to why we cook. Different for each of us and yet sort of common ground for all.
Things slow down in winter: people travel less and to much warmer places than Istanbul. I do fewer food walks and cooking classes. Short days tempt you to do less and think more, or even better stare at the enchanting fireplace to the howling sound of the wind outside.
In between doing what you used to do and thinking what you can be doing there is the third state of being – experimenting. Usually rather risky affair calling for time to run the trial-and-error and yet not promising a certain outcome experimenting sounds very right to do off season.
When I say I had a chance to help a few chefs at their small kitchens people say “wow” and something to that effect. Little they know (and so did I before) that when assisting a chef the first thing you get to know is dishes. I mean, dishes! Save your aspirations to learn the recipes and cool chef tricks for later as the first skill you will hone to perfection during your apprenticeship at a restaurant kitchen will be dishwashing.
I wrote about our delicious road trip along the Turkish Aegean coast earlier this week and it seems only right to continue. Right after Ayvalik which won our hearts and stomachs we ventured to another culinary destination – Cunda island.
I love traveling off season. Locals unburdened by the crowds of customers are happy to chat with you. And you are not destructed from the main purpose of traveling and simply being – eating.
In October when the summer is long gone you can still enjoy Turkish seaside. Ayvalık, a town on the Aegean coast is a great choice if you travel for the same cause as I do. Located right one the shore and overlooking Greek Islands Ayvalık is renown in Turkey for the finest olive oil. Hard to go wrong with food if olive oil is good. Good olive oil obliges: its making is a family tradition of paying respects to the mother earth and knowing how to make good sense of its produce.
I have spent a good part of Sunday helping with the breakfast at our countryside restaurant in Sapanca. You would get surprised how much attention it takes to do an open buffet for 40 people over 4 hours. I was only helping with refilling the buffet, bread basket and stock of tea glasses (imagine a Turkish breakfast without the properly brewed strong tea!). Couple of times I went down to the kitchen to speed up dish washing. In between I edited a post, sorted some photos and replied to a couple of emails. Then I spent the afternoon running between the computer, supervising hotel room cleaning, doing our own laundry and ironing restaurant table clothes. The day has passed like that – in the errands of the family business and little chats with the family members in between.