Category Archives: Spoon & Fork

Ebru’yla New Orleans…

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*Oncelikle Turkce klavyem olmadigi icin, Ingilizce karakterlerle Turkce okumaya calisirken beyin hucrelerinize verdigim zorluktan dolayi ozur dilerim…

New Orleans’da Pazar gecesi. Saat sanirim 12:30 ya da 1:00… “Ya Ebru haydi kizim ya, biraz hizli yuru” dedim artik… Gece olmus bi saat, French Quarter’dayiz ama, yine de kapkaranlik. Etrafta kimse yok. Ebru elinde son birasi, Amerika’da sokakta icki ve sigara icmenin keyfini cikariyor. Ben ise klasik etrafi kolluyorum. Ve biran once agriyan ayaklarimi dinlendirme ihtiyaci icerisindeyim. Ebru’yu taniyanlar bilir. Tanimayanlara ben anlatayim. Keyif insanidir, hayatin tadini cikara cikara yasar.  Ickisini yavas yavas icer. Yemegini yavas yavas yer. Ta 11 yasindan beri arkadasimdir… Genclik yillarimizda aslinda tezcanli, cilgin ve aceleci diyebilecegimiz bir yapidayken.. sonraki yillarda Ferda’yla “Ebru’ya 3’teki bulusmayi 2 diyelim. 1 saate cikamaz evden” diye konusurken bulmusuzdur kendimizi.

Ancak benim hala bitmek bilmeyen aceleci halime super gelir, denge getirir arkadasim. Bu nedenle soz verdim kendime. Ebru’nun ilk New Orleans seyahati, abartma yavastan al dedim… Uyumlu ve daha yavas bir insan olma sozu verdim kendime… Ama gecenin sonunda “Ya Ebru, kizim Istanbul degil burasi. New Orleans… basimiza is gelecek, yuru hadi” dedim… keyif yapiyor diye. Su cevabi aldim. “Biraz daha hizli yurursem, dusecem. Cok ictik galiba” dedi… Saglam icki icen arkadasimdam beklemedigim bir cevap oldu tabii ki.Ve vidi vidiyi birakip, anin tadini cikarma zamani geldigini anladim… “Gel yavrum, gir koluma” dedim.

15 saat once: 9:30 am

New Orleans normalde Mardi Gras, icki, cilginlik vs olarak bilinse de, benim icin hep guzel yemek, nehir kokusu, guzel mimari ve Amerika’da biraz da olsa Avrupa demek oldu…

Bir heyecan sabah ciktik yola. Amerika’da araba yolculugu hem guzeldir, hem de Turkiye ve Avrupa’ya gore farkli. Genelde ozellikle kucuk eyaletlerde gidiyorsaniz, sehirler haric pek otoban olmaz. Highway dedigimiz sey, iki yani yemyesil agaclardan olusan, dumduz cift yoldan ibarettir. “Su kasabaya giriyim bu bakiyim ne varmis” derseniz. Birsey bulamazsiniz. Sinekli 2 bakkal bulursunuz. Filmlerdeki gibi degildir. Zaten Ebru 2 ay once geldiginden beri “Bu Hollywood bize herseyi yutturmus” isyanlarinda 🙂 O yuzden yola cikmadan “Bak burda road trip gibi olmaz. Hele Mississippi’den gececez. In cin top oynar bazi yerlerde. Ancak 2-3 yerde durur, sigara/benzin molasi verir, devam ederiz” dedim. Zaten super uyumlu bi insan oldugundan, “tamam canim, problem degil” dedi. Aynen o sekilde 6.5 saat kakara kikiri yol yaptik. Insan 30 senelik arkadasiyla ne konusur sasirmamak mumkun degil. Yani insanlar konusacak sey bulamiyor da, neden arkadasiyla konusacak konu bitmiyor anlamak mumkun degil.

New Orleans’a seyahatin en sevdigim yeri, batakliktan gecilen finali… Tam Mississippi nehriyle okyanusun birlestigi yer oldugundan kilometrelerce batakliklik var. Ve batakligin ustunde evler, iste burasi aynen filmlerde oldugu gibi 🙂 Bataklik nedeniyle Fransizlar Amerika’ya yayilamamis, baska bolgelere salyangoz, timsah ve bilimum acayip yemeklerini ic bolgelere cok tasiyamamislar.

Batakliklardan gecerek sehre girdik. French Quarter’a girince zaten, insan Amerika’da gormeye alisik olmadigi bir yaya trafigi ve restaurantlardan/barlardan cikan insanlari goruyor. Turk insaninin hayatinda surekli olan birsey oldugundan, ancak yoklukta anlasilir birseydir yaya trafiginin olmamasi… ve eksikligi…

8 saat once – 4:30 pm

Herhangi bir sahil sehrine girer girmez, memleket aliskanligiyla balik, deniz mahsulu vs yerlerini gozume kestirme bir hastalik olmustur bende. Bunun yaninda Memphis-New Orleans hattindan aliskanlik olan bir kerevit (crawfish) ve cajun/creole yemegi hayranligim da vardir… Otelin kosesinde bir oyster bar ve crawfish yazisi gordum. Daha giyinirken, googledan reviewlara bakip hemen restauranta gittik. Cok turistik gorunmesine ragmen, avlusu cok guzeldi, reviewlar da fena degildi. Yol yorgunluguyla sadece bira ve baslangic soylemeye karar verdik. New Orleans klasiklerinden ve favorilerimden seafood gumbo (uzun saatler pisirilen, sebzeli pirincli bir deniz mahsulu corbasi). Meraklisi burdan bakabilir. Domuz eti yemeyen arkadaslariniza icindeki Andouille Sausage icin helaldir diyin. Gunahi size yazsin. Zira tadi sucuga cok benzer, icinde de cok az miktarda oldugundan, hic farketmeden afiyetle yiyeceklerdir. Bir de New Orleans’a gelince yemesen olmaz. Timsahli sausage soyledik. Ara ara vejeterjan olup, timsah yemegi kendime yakistiramasam da… Inegin timsahtan ayricaligi ne, hem de memeli hayvan yiyorsun… ye be kizim diyerek.. onu da bi guzel yedik. Meraklisi ona da burdan bakabilir. (bizim yedigimiz biraz daha havalisiydi) 

6 saat once – 6:30 pm

New Orleans’a gidip Pat O Brien’s a gitmemek gercekten olmaz. http://www.patobriens.com/patobriens/default.asp

Turistik midir, tabii ki evet. Ama hem lokaller hem de turistlerin her yer oluyken bile gidip garantili eglendigi yerdir.Hemen hergun canli muzik olur…

New Orleans’a ozgu Hurricane denilen icki buradan cikmistir. Genelde cok buyuk bir bardakta sunulur. Rom bazli bir ickidir. 2. dunya savasi sirasinda viski gibi ickilerin az bulundugu zamanda, bar sahiplerinin 1 sise bu tip ickilerden almak icin 50 sise rom almak zorunda kalip Hurricane gibi ickiler urettiklerini soyluyorlar. Icinde rom haricinde ne oldugunu pek bilmiyorum ama sekerli, icimi kolay bir ickidir. Hemen de carpar.

Pazar gunu saat 6:30 oldugu halde, oturacak masa yoktu. Cok tatli zenci bir garson cocuk, ickilerinizi getiriyim, masa buluruz dedi. Tam onu soylerken, bir masa bosaldi oturduk. Ickimiz gelmeden ben bi tuvalete gidiyim dedim… Dondum bizim masaya Ebru misafir almis. Benim sosyalligim zaten bilinen birsey. Ama sanirim yaslandikca biraz azaldi. Ya da “ya gokce takma insanlari pesimize, ne gerek var” vs diye bazi zamanlar azar isittigimden artik kontrol altinda bir sosyalligim var.

Normal olarak, Ebru Turk misafirperverligi ile, ortada masa olmayinca, ve de Amerika’da sigara icen olmayinca bir cifte buyrun oturun demis. Ben gelince, ciftin erkek olani bana bakip “biz kalkalim” dedi. Karisi, hafif cakir keyif “why I am going to have a cigarette with her, have a seat” dedi. Adamcagiz, yine bana bakip “let’s go, we’ll find a table” dedi. Ben de Ebru’ya baktim, o da halinden memnun. Cift de bizim yaslarimizda. Kadin da hala cok tatli “hi.. how are you, I am going to have a cigarette with your friend” dedi… “of course” dedim. Efendim cift Dallas Texas’tan. Ebru’nun Turkiye’den oldugunu ve ilk defa New Orleans’a geldigini duyunca cok ilgi oldu dolayisiyla. Ciftin erkek tarafi (Andy)’nin dogumgunuymus. Andy’nin erkek kardesi New Orleans’da yasiyormus. Bu arada tam biz konusurken, ickiler ismarlandi. Arka masada 60-70 li yaslardan bir cift happy birthday dedi. O yasli cift de bize katildi… Masamiz oldu 6 kisi… sen nerdensin, o kim vs.. hikayeler derken… Bizim ciftin meger kardesi ve esi de ordaymis. Gelip durumu 30 saniye kadar garip karsiladiktan sonra, onlar da katildilar… sohbet vs derken… ilk ickiler bitti ve lemon drop shotlar geldi.. hem lemon drop a duskunlugum hem de yanimda Ebru olmasi nedeniyle, “bir shottan da sarhos olacak degilsin” diyip ilk shota OK dedim… sonra artik saymadim onlar kac tane icti. Ben orda durdum ve sohbete dahil olup, patlamis misirimi yedim. Kac senedir seyahatte yeni arkadas edinmedigimi dusundum. Insan anne olunca, cocuklarla aileyle seyahat edince boyle seylerden uzaklasiyor. Daha kapali ve kontrollu oluyor sanirim. Planli programli da olmuyor bazi seyler. Bazi insanlarla hemen sohbet muhabbet kurulabiliyor… Aynen hic planlamadan, Ebru’yla bir icki icer, sonra yemek yeriz derken, kendimi 8 kisilik degisik yas gruplarindan insanlarin ortasinda cok eglenirken buldum.

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Sonra kim dediyse burdan Saints & Sinner’s a gecelim dedi. Efendim Channing Tatum’un mekaniymis. Kendisini pek tanimam. En son celebrity crush’um 15 yil once Bourne Identity’de Matt Damon’da kalmis. Pat O Brien’s in tam karsisinda oldugundan girdik mekana. Gercekten guzel bir bari var… Ebru “ne kokuyo ya burasi” diye bana bakti… “a super crawfish” dedim… balik sevmeyene balik kokusu nasil gelirse, o sekilde bana bakip disari cikti… Ebru’nun hicbirseyi sevmese en azindan acisini sevecegini dusunup hemen bara oturup 1.5 lb crawfish soyledim… bizim grup icki soyledi. Ebru donup, barmenlere her celebrity’nin actigi yerin iflas ettigini soyledi… 🙂 ben ilk defa bir ortamda konusma geregi hissetmeden, birami yudumlayip, etrafi seyrettim. Crawfish gelince, barmen Ebru’ya nasil yenecegi teknigini gosterdi. Acikcasi, kafa koparip vucuttaki kabugu kirmaktan baska nasil bir teknik oldugunu dinleme geregi duymadim… acisi kulaklarimdan cika cika afiyetle yerken, bizim grup artik sarhos oldugunu kabul edip bizi facebook’tan ekleyip, sarilip opup ayrildi…

9:30-till

Bourbon street hemen her saatte degisik muzik ve eglence etkinlikleriyle dolar. Hangi tarz muzik seviyorsaniz, her turlusunu bulursunuz. Halkin yarisi zaten sokaktadir, ellerinde ickileri, boyunlarinda New Orleans boncuklari mekandan mekana gecerler. Bir cesit barlar sokagidir. Seyahat tarihimizden dolayi yas ortalamasi daha buyuktu, ve Allah’tan sokakta sacmalayan insan yoktu. Ebru bi cesit piyano bar begendi. Piyano bar dediysem, sanmayin ki klasik muzik. 2 tane caz piyanisti, atisma tarzi muzik yapar. Kuzeyde boyle birsey var mi bilmem ama Memphis ve New Orleans’da en eglenceli yerler buralardir. Istediginiz sarkiyi istek parcasi olarak soylersiniz, bi sekilde calarlar. Bol dansli ve eglenceli olur. Burda da, bi sekilde 25-26 yaslarinda 7-8 kisilik bir kiz grubuyla arkadas olduk. Kizkiza tatile cikmislar. Ben icki ismarlerken, birisi Yunanli misin dedi… hayir Turkum dedim. Annesi yunanli babasi italyanmis. Ordan sohbet muhabbet… acikcasi kizlarla konusurken, genclik yillarimi hatirlamadim degil. Cok seker, hayat dolu ve hos sohbet kizlardi.
Sonra bir baktim Ebru’yu sahneye cikarmislar. Zenci muzisyenlerden birisi, demirden bir percussion yelegi giymis. Nasil anlatilir bilmem. Tirtikli bir yelek… Ebru onu caliyordu. Neden bu ani fotograflamadim bilmem. Sonra ordan cikip, Minnesota’li ciftle baska bir yere gittik. Canli muzik oldugu halde cok sikiciydi.. Ordan tek basimiza ayrildik…

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Sokagin sonuna dogru, Ebru bi yerdeki muzige kulak kabartip “buraya girelim” dedi. Hem yol yorgunlugu, hem gezip tozma sebebiyle benim artik sarjim iphone kirmizi isigi seklinde %20 nin altina inmisti oysaki. Kendimi power save mode a alip, bir yere oturdum… bu arada, sanirim uzun zamandir boyle guzel muzik dinlememistim. Cok kisa cekmistim, burdan gorebilirsiniz.

Ebru bir bira soyledi… Ben power save mode da, soylememe hakkimi kullandim. Ne kadar kaldik hatirlamiyorum ama en sonra, artik sarjim %2-3 e inince, oyun bozanlik yapma hakkimi da kullanip “Ebru gidelim mi?” dedim. “Haydi” dedi kalktik…

Iste hikayenin basladigi yere geldigimiz an bu andir… Otele donus yolu olan 10 dakikalik yuruyus sanirim 20-25 dakika surdu. Ebru New Orleans’da cekilen “The Originals” adli vampir dizisini seyredip oyle bir ortam bulamadigindan cok soylendi… Aslinda tam da vampirlerin ustumuze atlayabilecegi yerlerden gectik bence. Onun rahatligina gelemedim, sanirim 1 kadeh eksik ictim.

Ayaklarim acidan, gozlerim agirliktan bayilirken… ve tam vidi vidi edip “ya ebru haydi” derken… iste o an yaslanmanin en guzel yani buldu beni… artik 20 yasinda olmadigimiz, ve bu anlarin cok sik gelmeyecegini bilme ani. Sanirim en son universite yillarinda bu sekilde, plansiz programsiz arkadasimla kolkola cikip gezmisimdir… hayati, savaslari, olumleri 3-5 saatligine unutup, sadece o ani yasayarak. 100% guvendigin, her turlu acayip huyuna ragmen seni sevdiginden emin oldugun bir insanin yanindan daha rahat ve guzel neresi olabilir? Girdim koluna, ben de binalara baka baka, hic konusmadan… Burdan mi vampir cikar, burdan mi hirsiz cikar dusunmeden… sakin sakin cakir keyif otelimize yuruduk… uzun zamandir uyumadigim kadar guzel bir uyku uyudum…

 

 

MERAKLISINA New Orleans mekanlar vs.

Oteller: French Quarter hesaplica, gurultu patirtisi cok olmayan ve oraya buraya yakin…

Place d’ Armes  http://bit.ly/22Yln48

Jackson Square ve Bourbon street’e yakin. Avlusu cok guzel. Ve balkonlu avluya bakan odalarini tavsiye ederim. (bu gittigimizde burada kalamadik)

French Market Inn http://www.frenchmarketinn.com/  (bu defa bu otelde kaldik. Cok eski 3-4 eski binadan olusuyor. Ici guzel. Ancak biraz sallaniyor 🙂 Ebru’yla birbirimizi korkutmamak icin sallandigini soylememisiz…)

Gezilecek yerler:

Magazine Street – lokallerin de gezdigi, cok turistik olmayan, yanyana butiklerin, restoranlarin oldugu cadde. French Quarter’dan uzaklastikca daha da sakin ve az turistik. Burada “Ignatius” de yemek yiyebilirsiniz. Genelde half price Martini’leri oluyor. http://www.ignatiuseatery.com/

Mezarlik turu:

Bir Arjantin mezarliklari kadar gorkemli olmasa da, New Orleans’a gidip mezarlik gezmeden olmaz. Rehberdeki St. Louis cemetery tarafina gitmenizi tavsiye etmem. Magazine street’e yakin tramvayin Washington Ave duraginda inence goreceginiz Lafayette cemetery daha kucuk cok daha guzel.

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Yemek:

Herhangi bir oyster bar…

Esnaf lokantasi gibi bir hava istiyorsaniz Mother’s

Guzel bir aksam yemegi Muriel’s (biraz fine dining gibi. Ama Amerika’da her yerde oldugu gibi kotla gidebilirsiniz. Bu defa yer ayirtmadan Ptesi aksami yer bulduk, ama her zaman bulamayabilirsiniz). Bread pudding yemeden cikmayin 🙂

Kahvalti diner Camellia Grill.  Acik mutfak ve guneye ozgu bir tarzi var.

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Stanley tum gun kahvalti bulabileceginiz, herkese gore birseyin oldugu yer. Bir turlu midyeli/yumurtali kahvaltilarini yemek kismet olmadi. Bir dahaki sefere insallah.

Bourbon Street mekanlar:

Pat O Briens

Saints and Sinners

Fritzel’s Jazz Club

 

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Heads or Tails?

“Heads or tails?” the Humane Society Manager asked… I said “heads” (I think)… My heart was beating so fast. Just like how I felt before a basketball match we played, or a race I had to run at a track meet. The man next to us, was wearing a white butcher’s coat… A young man, in his 30s, still older than us… We were the better family for the dog. I freaking brought a toy with me… We got everything for him… I visited him 3 times that week… This man walking in the last minute, filling up an application… and taking our dog away.. The dog we are supposed to adopt. I was upset, I was mad. No one told me there were so many applicants… And we came 1st thing in the morning… It was not fair…

10 days earlier:

I was watching TV in our 1 bedroom apartment in Memphis, the 1st year we moved to the US. It had been probably only a few months since we moved. We got married in July, we moved to the US in August… My only experience of the US before Memphis was Miami and Los Angeles. Memphis was a long way from those experiences. I missed my friends, my busy life in Istanbul.. but I loved our little life… Small city, small university, small group of Turkish students, night time business classes, lots of history, good food and lots of crime… It was Southern US at its best. I was 25, still very young, somewhat naive(r)…

I was shocked to hear from the anchorman who was holding 3 beautiful puppies on his lap that these pups were on their way to die that day if not adopted. I had no clue at the time that Memphis Shelter put down (that is the US dog rescue term for euthanasia) 1500 dogs a month… All good, healthy dogs… unfortunately treated like trash, trash of people who thought they were disposable…

So those of you who know me, at this point can guess, I called the TV station, saying I would adopt one of them… They said, I could call the Humane Society. So I called the Humane Society… They said, all those pups were adopted… BUT, there were many more… Many more that needed someone like me. (Some delusion-ed individual like me who would want to adopt a puppy.)

I went to Humane Society that day, walked about the cages, and saw the most adorable, white shepherd mix… I walked a bit more… a chocolate lab mix. He had a splash of  white on his chest, he was chewing on the lock of the cage (I should have known better)… I fell in love… I walked to the front desk told them I was going to adopt him. They said, “great” could you fill out this application. So I did… And they said “he needs to be neutered, and needs his shots. He is still a bit young for his shots, but he will be ready to go in 10 days”…

I visited him 3 times that week. I didn’t have a lot to do. The Humane Society was close to the University and I missed our family dog back home. The volunteers knew me by the time I visited him the last day. One of them told me that a few other families wanted him… “But” they said, “don’t worry.” “First come 1st served, if you come early tomorrow, you will get him.” So I woke up my husband at the crack of dawn, and we were at Humane Society before everyone else. Until the “butcher” man walked in… and it was a coin toss, so much for first-come first- served.

Some of my friends tell me I am unlucky. Things that didn’t happen in other people’s lives found me… like getting robbed at gunpoint… or the fact that I always lose at card games when we play. I actually think I am a very lucky person. I scored well in this life with a great family. Amazing friends… And I won quite a bit at contests. Once a few thousand dollars in college from the Turkish Lottery. (that money was well spent on bars and clubs at the time with my friends :)… So I thought, I would win…

The manager asked, “if you don’t win will you adopt another dog?”. I said, “of course”. The white shepherd mix… The butcher man said “No, my kid wants the lab”… I knew I was going to win at this time. Still I felt bad, if I won there will be one dog adopted that day…

So the coin was tossed in the air, then dropped to the counter. I couldn’t see it. and Emre said “we won!”… the butcher man left immediately. We were jumping up and down and a volunteer was saying “we wanted YOU to win!”.At this exact moment, the “butcher” man walked in.. “Will you take $150 for the dog?”……….. (the adoption fee was $50). “wha-?”… I said “No, thank you”… then I thought, if I give him the choco lab, another dog can be adopted. But do I want to give this dog away to someone who would try to auction a dog. I said “No, thank you” again…

We named him Bono, for Bono of U2. My favorite not-much-known-in-the-US-band at the time.  I should have known better, that bands and my taste in music and other things would change in the next 15 years… As U2 became famous in the US, no one asked what Bono meant anymore. I was eventually upgraded to a fangirl, naming a dog after a the now capitalist Bono 🙂

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I don’t remember much after that… other than mini-memories of our life… they say your life flies like film before your eyes when you die… so maybe it’s something similar to this :

…mini memories of Bono sleeping lazily in our arms on a blanket on the grass at the park… Bono chasing ducks… Bono chewing my favorite red shoe… I didn’t know about it. The shoe fit a bit tight… I told my husband.. he said “maybe your feet are swelled up”… I then learned, months later, when I found a 3rd red shoe in a closet that Bono chewed the original and my husband bought the exact pair for me… Bono chewing more shoes… Bono chewing our couch… Taking Bono for “training” only to hear that “owners need to be trained”… Moving to a bigger house with a yard for Bono… Going to Shelby farms so Bono can swim in the lake. Starting a Dog rescue group… Saving dogs, Bono being so nice to all dogs… Especially loving the hound/lab brindle mix… So we adopt her too… We named her Buffy. (for Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Busy life, more responsibilities.. moving to NY… finding an empty loft that will allow dogs… not moving to NY because of Sept 11… coming back to Memphis.. starting a new business. Taking dogs camping… deciding that dogs can no longer sleep on our bed… dogs object… Buying our 1st house… renovating, renovating, renovating… dust on dogs, dust in our nose… sitting with dogs on the porch.. going on runs with the dogs… going camping… getting pregnant.. Bono putting his head on my tummy… can he hear the babies?… being on bed rest for early labor. Lazy days with dogs.. family everywhere… so much love in that house… babies… not one but 2… I am not jealous of anyone’s belongings… I am jealous of their sleep. I am up, babies are up… babies crying… 3 am… feeding… crying again 3:03 am… sleep… crying again 3:16am. Bono & Buffy are looking at me like “see what you have done… you silly gurrlll”… husband is up, brother in law is up… 3:20 am in that house… is like a mad house… walking the next afternoon calmly in the neighborhood. I feel like Noah’s Ark’s captain. 2 adult humans male/female, 2 dogs male/female, 2 babies male/female…

And then life went on… In the 15 years that we shared this life with Bono I went from someone who didn’t lose much, to someone that could lose a lot… I lost my Mom to cancer… That same month,  I almost lost my husband when he got shot during an armed robbery… We lost our female dog to cancer…

It is not much compared to what some of my friends and people I know have lost… they lost spouses, they lost children… however, in this silly matrix or whatever that life is, my dogs brought me so much joy… at some point in time, I guess I was starting to become wiser I envied my dogs… I saw qualities in them that I knew I could learn from. Only if I could be like them… Such as:

1- unconditional love- such a cliche.. but you know it when you get it and then it doesn’t feel like a cliche anymore, it feels like you are more important to someone than you are to yourself… My dogs didn’t care who I was.. They just loved me. Not because I fed them. I knew from rescue that, even horrible owners were loved by their dogs… I always thought no one would love me as much as my Mom.. but then I thought, my dogs probably loved me more.

2- the joy of seeing someone come through a door- only if we could open our hearts to people coming through the door. Humans are selfish. We are suspicious when the doorbell rings. Even if it’s a friend that we love so much. We greet them with “oh, hey there.. come on in”.. where you know how your dog greets you… in human terms it would have been “a jumping on a lap, tackling someone to the floor and kissing them…” we are not even capable of giving a hug that lasts more than 3 seconds. The door can be anything… dogs live life with an open door, expecting goodness… we live behind closed doors, mostly scared and suspicious.

3- wagging that tail- one day were were walking at Shelby farms I think… A huge urban park with lakes, biking trails… Bono was wagging his tail just full of joy. I also loved Shelby Farms. But if someone looked at me from afar they couldn’t know my joy… I wanted to wag my tail… and skip on the trail like he did… all with a wagging tail and a nose up sniffing the air…

4- sniffing butts – personality analysis through the smell of hormones… oh how I envied this… my life would have been so much better… but without the ability to sniff butts,  I learned from Bono not to trust anyone before I was close enough to be able to smell them 🙂

I couldn’t bring myself to write about Bono sooner… it has been more than a month. It broke my heart this time… There are so many more pains in this life, I am almost embarrassed to admit feeling this much grief after losing my dog. Not that it compared to my grief when I lost my Mom. I guess I am just getting older, and our dogs dying remind us of our own death. As my Mom wisely put it one day “the hardest thing in this life was that we had to love mortal beings”… That life is so fragile for everyone around us and we are only here for a certain time… and when that time comes; what is left behind are mini-memories and… a certain smell, the memory of a touch…

Again, as I wish each time I lose someone I love… I am hoping that they are existing freely in another dimension.. Hopefully with people we love… with no pain, no insecurities or worries of the mortal kind… and with wagging tails for everyone…

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In honor of National Poetry Day today… By Pablo Neruda

A Dog Has Died

 My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I'll join him right there,
but now he's gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I'll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I'll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he'd keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea's movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean's spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don't now and never did lie to each other.

So now he's gone and I buried him,
and that's all there is to it.

Baklava…

baklava_2I am sorry, but this is not a post about a recipe for “baklava” … I do have a recipe for baklava with store-bought-phyllo dough, but I have to post that when I am in the US… Over here in Turkey, there is no need to make your own… Almost every neighborhood has a store that specializes only in “desserts”… These pictures are the very reason why we Middle Easterners look down on the baklava in the US and other western countries… Although I usually prefer almost every food home-made…The home-made baklava unfortunately can never beat the professional-made in this case. Please look at the pictures closely, I cannot even count the layers.. all these layers are hand rolled, buttered and baked to perfection… hopefully, I will have a chance to take photos in a “baklava store” and post the process here….

baklava_3

Until then enjoy the photos… These are from Gulluoglu Karakoy to me it’s the best baklava in Istanbul. (again, just like there are a gazillion versions of pizza out there, there are a gazillion versions of baklava, and everyone’s preference is different). For my US readers, just a while ago, Gulluoglu opened a location in NYC. We ordered from there before for gatherings in Memphis. Although not as good as their location in Istanbul it’s pretty respectable. Don’t get me wrong, the quality of the products is the same, it’s just not “perfect” and  just cannot be, since I am sure they cannot find the same ingredient choices and vendors over there. If you decide to order, try the “burma kadayif” as well… that product is almost identical to the ones in Turkey…

adventures in Istanbul series… vol.1. Pierre Loti & macun (candy on a stick)

Macun getting ready to be rolled on sticks...

Macun getting ready to be rolled on sticks...

*Turkce blog icin yazinin sonundaki linke tiklayin… Macun bizim kulturumuze ait birsey oldugundan, bu yazi icin Turk olanlarin Turkce blogu okumasini tavsiye ederim… Ingilizce yazi daha cok yabancilara yonelik…

I have been collecting so much material to post in Istanbul and other cities we are visiting in Turkey. I find it almost impossible to update the blog in the evenings… And then after a few days pass I am not that interested in that place, or topic that I thought about… I had writer’s blocks before… but I am new to this opposite… There are too many things to post, but I just don’t know where to begin… it’s very similar to having too many knitting projects on the needles…
So for a few days I will try to post instant updates “from location” using my iPhone… this post was meant to be a test post, but I couldn’t figure out how to upload my pictures. (will solve that soon). Of course the quality of the photos will suffer, hopefully the content will make up for it. I will try to follow with more explanatory posts such as this one, especially if I am writing about a location, restaurant etc. Feel free to comment and and ask for additional info…

The view from Pierre Loti Cafe

The view from Pierre Loti Cafe

Today we were at Pierre Loti Cafe in Eyup. It’s interesting that I have never been there for the 7 years I lived in Istanbul although it’s just the type of place that I would enjoy… We also found out that neither my husband nor my best friend’s husband has been there… Since Ferda (my best friend) has been the only one that has been there, she also took the courtesy to drive the car through the claustrophobic Eyup weekend traffic ruled by chaos.  This historic cafe, or more appropriately tea/coffee house, has direct panaromic view of the “the Golden Horn“. We sat at a back table under the trees and sipped our tea.

When I walked down to take the above picture I saw a vendor selling “macun” (direct translation “paste”). This is a form of chewy candy that is wrapped on sticks. It comes in various colors and aromas… There really isn’t something identical to macun in the modern candy culture. The taste is identical to hard candy, but it’s as chewy as marshmallow but you cannot bite into it. The candy sticks to your teeth for dear life. The best part is to order what you want, and then you have the option to have the top dipped in lemon.

see that lemon waiting for its own share of this perfect candy...

see that lemon waiting for its own share of this perfect candy...

We used to have these candy vendors all around the shopping areas when we were kids. Then when candies started being produced and sold by factories these vendors dissappeared. In my hometown, we used to have something similar to the ice cream trucks… but instead of mobile ice cream, these vendors provided a “mobile merry-go-round”. When I heard the music of the approaching truck, I used to run upstairs to get permission and coins from my mom… That same truck also sold “macun”… I guess I learned about that tactic in my MBA class as product lining (marketing strategy of offering for sale several related products).

I haven’t seen a macun vendor for at least 15 years. I was soooo happy to be able to offer my kids macun… Of course I also got one for myself… But you really have to be a child to appreciate the soft candy sticking to your teeth while your are trying to manouver the dangling strings from your chin… As expected “macun” won their hearts immediately, nothing can beat that smile in a child’s eyes when they find some new taste and enjoy it to the last bite…

the best tastes always come wrapped around a stick!!

the best tastes always come wrapped around a stick!!

Turkce blog icin tiklayin bakalim!

Daisy my love… thank you my love…

daisy

Instead of the Elmo pinata that I wished for, here’s what I got from my husband for my birthday!!!

For some reason these wild daisies are not available where we live in the US… I guess, since you can pick them up for free, they don’t care to sell them?? Shame on them!!

I have always been in love with them, and this was also my husband’s first birthday gift when we started dating… it was a great surprise, and we filled 4 vases with it!!! the next time I am planning to ask him for a flower bucket to go along with it…

Hugs and happy spring… g.

Turkce blog icin tiklayin bakalim!

Turkish Empanadas / Pogaca

*Turkce blog icin yazinin sonundaki linke tiklayiniz…

I apologize  for not being able to update the blog for the past few days… We travelled from the US to Turkey… As many of you know we have twin toddlers and it’s a lot of work to fly with them. Add to that tiredness level some jetlag and you have the perfect storm situation for ignoring your blog…

pogaca_1

I am very excited about the next few months that I will be blogging from Turkey though… It’s impossible not to be inspired from local produce and local food here. I hope to share lots of recipes and stories for sure… For my knitter readers, I am planning to hit the local yarn stores and post info on them…

Today’s blog topic is again a “staple baked good” in Turkey. I actually didn’t even like naming them empanadas… Yet again, “empanada” or “pogaca” type baked good is not yet adapted to the English language. I am sure you got the idea.

This recipe is from many of the newspaper clippings that my mother left me. She loved clipping things from newspapers, from recipes to skincare tips… she loved reading every little detail on the paper… and I inherited a huge stack of them. I love the recipe for it’s use of vinegar. Anytime vinegar enters a pastry and if it works I adopt and adore that recipe… It just adds a crunch and nice crumbly-melt-in-your-mouth texture when it works…

I also noticed that one of the food blogs that I follow, Shuna writes her ingredients as “item first, measurement last”… She also has an explanation here. I liked it a lot, it was a lot easier for me to read and double up her recipes. Please let me know what you think.

pogaca_steps-copy

Mom’s Pogaca

Ingredients:

  • Extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 cup
  • Melted butter, 1/2 cup
  • Whole milk yogurt, plain, 1/2 cup
  • Egg, 1 whole
  • Vinegar, 1 tablespoon
  • Baking powder, 1 teaspoon
  • All purpose flour, 2-2.5 cups

for top: 1 egg yolk, black cumin or black sesame seeds

-Pour the melted butter and the olive oil in a deep bowl

-Add the yogurt and egg, mix. Add the vinegar and the baking powder

-Slowly mix in the flour… First mix the 2 cups… The dough needs to be soft but workable… Add until it becomes a ball. In winter I tend to use about 2.5 cups in summer I tend to add more…

-Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.

-While the dough is resting prepare favorite filling. We like feta cheese or potato filling.

  • for feta cheese filling: Mix 1/2 lb of feta with 1/4 cup parsley. Add paprika and pepper.
  • for potato filling: boil 2 med size potatoes. Dice, add tomato paste as an option. Add paprika and pepper.

-Form walnut size balls, press the balls between your palm to make discs. Put 1 teaspoonful filling in the middle. Close and seal the edges to make “D” shape.

-Brush with egg yolk, and sprinkle black sesame seeds…

-Bake at 385F for 20-25 minutes until  the bottoms are golden brown.

Cyber hugs, g.

Turkce blog icin tiklayin bakalim!

Birthday wish…

I know this is a food related blog and all… and this is a food related post… My birthday wish is to have an Elmo pinata… I actually fantasize about it each time I hear “wa wa wes, Elmo mooommmy”… like 40 times a day… see my fantasy brought to life on youtube