Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Confession: I miss "bad" food

Admittedly, it's been an inexcusable amount of time since I last posted something here, but holy cats I've been busy! I've moved to Istanbul, graduated from the Istanbul Culinary Institute and been grateful to have gaggles of gracious guests (and even more to come!). I was lucky enough to have my mom be here for my graduation and travel around with her (Iznik, Bursa, Canakkale, Bozcaada, Assos, Pamukkale, Fethiye--WHEW!). And just a few days ago, two of my closest friends from Washington, Amy and Randy, were here to paint Istanbul red for an entire week. Knowing me as well as they do, they came with hungry and adventurous stomachs for all of the varied, unique, and delicious dishes that Turkish cuisine has to offer. I treated them to kelle-paca soup, cig kofte, salgam suyu, doner, icli kofte, kebabs, lahmacun, ayran, cacik, tavuk gogusu tatlisi, asure, sucuk, menemen, breads, boreks and brains...yes, I tried to give them a bite of everything. What they gave me was something I rarely reflect on, being surrounded by all of the aforementioned goodies: what foods do I miss from the US? I'm kind of spoiled, in that my mom frequently sends me cargo boxes filled with the semi-non-perishables like beef jerky, Skittles, Starbursts and Tootsie Rolls (in fact, one just arrived yesterday--thanks, mom!). However, what I realized after pondering this question was that the things I missed are unquestionably "American"...and oh-so-unhealthy: corndogs, Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (yes, the powdery kind), waffle-cut fries, Runza sandwiches, and nachos from Taco Bell. It may seem wacky coming from someone who is allegedly to have a "refined" palate, but I was warned that once I decided to make the culinary arts a profession, the first thing I would crave would be jumbo slice (and yes, the chef that warned me was correct).

So when I have these cravings, I get by with my own Turkish versions of those dishes: real, 100% beef hotdogs (the only kind one can find here); homemade mac-n-cheese in the oven; nachos with guacamole I have to patiently wait a week to make for the avocados to be ripe; amongst other make-shift replacements. Though I still have yet to find a waffle fry cutter...or a good way to make a Runza.

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