Still digesting the incredible amount of food from my Istanbul study trip and dreaming of turkish delights (made with buffalo milk – it will change your world), I have found myself distracted during class with my collection of photos and thoughts involving Turkish food and tourist traps – how has my massive supply of helva magically disappeared? or why didn’t I just get off my high horse and buy more scarves in the grand bazaar? – Then of course my mind always finds its way to dinner, the best one being our last, held in Giritli Restaurant, a beautiful evening full of amazing food.
As we eased into our seats it was as though a new energy took over the group. Chatting and showing off what we had found in the spice market earlier that day, we welcomed a glass of wine or traditional raki and began to relax into the beautifully calm evening, letting the smell of flat bread cooking in the outside oven trigger our appetites.
And then the food began to arrive. It all happened so quickly, dish after dish approached our three large tables until every inch of the table cloth was covered. I had no idea what we were eating but it was so so so good, each dish was different, tasty and colorful. Overwhelmed but still food students we dug in with big appetites and curious tummies, the waiters continuing to arrive with freshly cooked bread. Unable to speak turkish, we communicated our satisfaction through empty plates and excited chatter. Discussing, passing and photographing the array of beautiful plates in front of us, we were all so happy to be experiencing this extraordinary turkish meal. As we polished off the lovely food we attempted to hold a conversation with the waiters by pointing and smiling. Unexpected, a second course arrived, I think I actually said ‘No’ out loud. I and many others had definitely over done the antipasti! Hot from the kitchen, the waiters generously dished out tender calamari and fish smelling so delicious. Wanting to try everything, we made room in our full stomachs and ate everything!
A waiter breezed around the tables handing out various digestivi, smiling at us as we sat in our state of food drunkenness. Whilst sipping our liquors we tasted a beautiful dessert made with a base of tahini that was served with delicate little pastry sticks (there is always room for dessert in this country!), the turkish food names were lost in a frenzy of eating and language barriers but this only added to the perfect turkish dinner, surprising us with every dish. A perfect way to end our trip and taste Istanbul through a combination of various plates. I swear I am still digesting this meal and often distract myself in class with photos from this night of many turkish delights!