It seemed that our Istanbul experience was all about the interleaving of tear gas and exquisite food. On the first evening of our meeting, we took a round trip on a Bosporus ferry. On our return to the dock in Besiktas the ferry was stuck in dock, with us on it, as waves of tear gas poured off the hill above. That was my first encounter with the acrid reek, burning eyes and hard-to-catch breath. After we made our way to the Tram and rode it with thousands of others, jammed in cheek to jowl, to the Galatas Bridge. What was amazing was how courteous and helpful everyone was to each other, helping each other get off at the stops, through the pressing crowd.
[Note - the first post in this tale is at the bottom of this page...]
We then walked across the bridge to the Egyptian Market, which was a treat, filled with spice stalls, cloth merchants, jewellers, etc. And had a wonderful meal in a restaurant atop the market. It had been a library for a mosque, apparently and the room was wonderfully decorated.
Everything was tender, charred, savoury and all-round delish!! You can bet i was inspired when i got back home and Turkish dishes, already a key part of my repertoire, re-appeared on my table.
We went to a small family restaurant in a very green and leafy residential neighbourhood, right on the Bosporus, right on the water. And young families came in by their droves - those not out protesting! -- complete with kids. One of the things that really impressed me was the way in which adults lavished such affection, verbal and physical, on their kids, in public. Again, very civilized..... At brunch we were served a serious of small dishes to sample from on the table. There were shirred eggs with a kind of salsa (Menemen), a spicy thin sliced sausage (sucuk) in a bit of tomato sauce, a kind of preserved lamb, coated in strong spices like cumin and sumac and sliced like parma ham; all accompanied by an infinite amount of thick slices of dry toasted fresh white bread. And at the end, there was also a thickened cream (bal-kaymak) -- like clotted cream only even thicker (something for my cheese buddies to explore) and a tub of honey -- i couldn't resist! And my arteries stood up and saluted! :>) And always accompanied by the ubiquitous chai....
To say i left with a happy tummy would be understating it!
So that was my experience -- food and protest (well, and a Project Meeting!). Actually, my biggest impression was of the warmth and hospitality of all i met - civilized urban people living in a secular society -- and bravely coming out to stand up for it against the creeping Islamicization of the Erdogan regime. To all those decent hard working people i raise my glass of chai and salute you!