Thursday, October 20, 2011

City of fractures, miracle and rush

Istanbul has become one of my favourite city over the last days: Its geografical position, its architecture, its cultural fractures, its fabulous atmosphere with all the rush and different cultural influences; its mysticism, its melancholia as well as its joy of living and beeing in the moment.
Though my trip was star-crossend concerning the weather (very cold and rainy) the city fanned out its whole fascination within very intense moments created by people, situations, architecture, places, culture and last but not least: FOOD!
You can eat a lot of trash in Istanbul as a tourist. But if you you ask people for recommendations you can easily enter a new world of taste. Sometimes European, sometimes Arabian, sometimes Asian and often a great creative mixture of all that. Even fast food can be very delicious in Istanbul if you know the right places to go - be it the fresh grilled fish sandwiches at the Galata Bridge Market or the simple white beans in tomato sauce, the calssic dish "Kuru Fasulye" in one of the restaurants near the Süleymaniye-Mosque and the most wonderful tea-garden of Istanbul.

My homeplace was the Manzara ( a very nice place with a fantastic intercultural team and a successful concept of classy apartments to rent in one of my favourite districts - Beyoglu and the Galata Area, which is an upcoming or better nearly established area of young fashion designers, alternative bars and tourists seeking for special places. Heart of the Manzara is the "Evde Cafe" - a place where you can have your daily breakfast down at the Galata Tower, if you want. Being welcomed with one of my favourite Jazz CDs and an unbelieveable charming young waitress - a german student - you really feel like being home = "Evde". Near the Manzara I discovered per accident a very nice wine shop with a bar specializing in Turkish wine: They serve little snacks in the evening and you can discover the whole world of Turkish wine flavors sitting there between all the bottles in a stylish cellar.

Walking through Istanbul...
... is like listening to more than 1000 stories at the same time. There are stories of desease and poverty simultaneously told with bright stories of richness and unbelievable splendor. The dissolution of buildings and infrastructure is as obvious as the vibrant, fast moving city of sky scrapers and highways. You see an ambitious upcoming middle class showing their new richness proudly at the same time with their religious faith. You see old man carrying unbelievable heavy loads through the narrow streets of the markets on their spine just for a little income to overcome the day. You meet an intrusive street hawker in one minute and in the next you get to know and old, very poor man selling delicious warm hazelnuts, donating you a few with a smile, not wanting to take offered money for it and talking about the most important believe in his life: that the things that taste most sweet are the things that you get as donation. He floated away like a young man and smiled, I estimate him to be over 90 years old.
All that is one minute in Istanbul. Imagine a day.

Sweet taste experiences
I was happy to be with a real good turkish speaking guide leading me through the whole market area around the Bazar of the spices. The interesting things are around the central area of the Basar building: the oldest coffee roasting facility, the best pastry cooks, the finest spicedealers. Loving sweets I was fascinated by all the tasty roasted nuts and pistachios as well as the originally handmade sweet specialities like"nest of the nightingale" - a nest-like loooking pastry out of fine fried dough fibers doused with honey, rosted nuts in the middle, looking like a real birds nest. The difference in quality is enormous: the cheap things are overwhelmed with sugarsirup. In contrast the high quality pastry is made with real honey and tastes marvelous, never too sweet. Another one of my favorites is a kind of "Cezerye" - special sweets made out of pomegranate juice, honey and nuts. Here again there are a lot of cheap versions with low taste, made out of sugar and artificial flavours. Cezerye is sold in pieces of about 10 centimeters and has different sizes of diameter around 2 up to 5 centimeters. It has a firm but smooth texture and you serve it cut into thin slices.
The taste is unbelievable. It is like having your first mature, sun flavored pomegranate in life on your tongue. Like a flash of fine sweet delight embraced by the maturity of the flavor of the different nuts inside.

The terraces
Istanbul has so many cafes and restaurants with a terrace offering wonderful different views over the city. Per accident, via recommendation, with and without my guide I found so many cafes where I was sitting for over an hour having one tea after another because the view was so impressive that I did not want to leave. Most of the terraces you have to figure out. The elevators are often not apparent at first glance. Sitting at the terrace and looking at the vibrant city is like listening to the past and the future of the place at the same time. Next time I will visit Istanbul in Mai 2012, it´s more than an intention:-) and I hope that there will be permanent sunshine. For sure I will announce 20 kilos excess baggage to carry all those fantastic dried and fresh food stuff back to Berlin.

dolce vita ahoi • monika ebert • mobile minds

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gaumenperlen - a label by mobile minds, monika ebert::: gaumenperlen is a diary about affairs of the heart. I´m addicted to delicious food, unique and extraordinary places as well as valuable things, fine arts, design, music, tango argentino and interesting people. The focus of this diary is food. Delicious food is much more than nutrition, health or prestige. it is the basis of your body& soul, it is at the core of your way to think, to live and act, it is your attitude towards nature. For me cooking is a wild, joyful, creative process with the objective to share the result in the end. This process is surrounded by a bunch of exciting encounters - nevertheless where I am:: at the markets, talking to producers, at the book stores, in restaurants, in my kitchen. That´s why I love cooking and travelling.