Thursday, March 8, 2012

Istanbul, Turkey

I have been in Boston for less than two months, but I am already itching to fly off to somewhere new again. 

Constantinople. Istanbul. How do I give a city with such rich history, culture, and people, justice with just a simple post? Istanbul was my first encounter in an Islamic country. Though it was clearly a modern metropolitan city, the Muslim influence is prevalent. There was so much to learn, so much to see, and only so much time. For those of you who have never been inside a mosque, it is a must. Nothing compares to the serenity and the grandness inside the majestically domed structures. Furthermore, being spoiled with a Turkish bath (hammam) and the smoothest hookah (nargile), everyone can feel like a sultan. Don't even remind me of how fun Turkish clubs are. The live bands played the most bumping beats, and everyone is just there to dance. And to top it off, every country we visited after Turkey admitted to the Ottoman Empire's influence in their own modern cultures, so really, Turkey is where it is. 

The food? I hope you like lamb. There are so many opportunities to grab a doner kebab or pomegranate juice on the go. My favorite thing? Meatballs. Also known as kofte, the Turks got it right. I found myself eating kofte almost every meal because they were well seasoned, tender, and juicy. And if yogurt is your thing, then so is Turkish cuisine. There are lots of variations of yogurt sauces and ayran, a salty yogurt drink that pairs perfectly with my favorite late night snack, kokorec, a lamb intestine wrap. And oh what I would give for some more flat bread and hot lentil soup right now. 

Suleiman Mosque

Fresh squeezed pomegranate juice, the perfect detox, or so I tell myself. 

Yogurtlu kebab: lamb with a yogurt and tomato sauce over fried potatoes

inside the Grand Bazaar

New friends with an Ataturk flag at the Grand Bazaar

Sahlep and kunefe

Soggy hamburgers? Yes, please! (Anthony Bourdain No Reservations was here before!)


Fresh fish sandwiches served from a boat

Spice Market

Kahve: Turkish unfiltered coffee

view from the Galata Kulesi

Turkish dumplings: manti

Kokorec: spiced and seasoned sauteed lamb intestines. The best.

Best hangover cure: red lentil soup and fresh oven baked flatbread

Kofte: the addictive Turkish meatball

Dolma, olive oil, and hummus

Check out those stuffed mussels. 

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