Okay, to those of you complaining that my blog is “lonely”: I have some perfectly reasonable excuses as to why that is the case. But please be warned: most of these excuses are lame and not actually legitimate. I could say:
-I have 5 hours of Russian every single day. Now I can actually communicate to a certain extent! For instance: Я люблю есть овсянкy (I love to eat oatmeal).
-I spend the majority of my time drinking coffee and loitering in cafes, which would be a bit monotonous to blog.
And finally, (probably the real reason I’m not blogging) I HAVE MISPLACED MY CONNECTOR CABLE. I think it must be in my room somewhere, but hidden. I’ll find it, but at the moment, I think I’ll blog sans photos.
Tonight, to celebrate it being Friday (and the end of the 7th week of this program), after a nice 4 hour nap, I set out to try Turkuaz Cafe. Turkuaz is small, cheap even by Bloomington standards, and specializes in its “pides,” which are basically Turkish pizzas.
I’ve gotten used to eating alone; to saying “oh, just one, please.” Who knows? Maybe as I pull out my book and camera, I give off a mysterious rather than a pathetic vibe. Anyways, Turkuaz was the perfect atmosphere for a loner like me. First of all, it was one of those restaurants with a built in porch, covered in Oriental rugs and tasseled pillows. I slipped off my shoes (or unzipped, them, rather, since they happened to be gladiator sandals. These shoes have brought me compliments, but also uneven tan lines that result in rather stripy legs) and literally curled up in a corner with The Master and Margarita (only 2 more chapters left!).
I ordered a small eggplant pide with spinach, mushrooms, and tilapia. All pides come with lentil soup and 3 different kinds of salad…. Talk about a good deal. The soup was a bright red hue and on the thin side: it was at least a third tomato base, giving it a sweet taste. On the other hand, it was so laced with garlic that I was already anticipating my Turkish coffee.
The salads were some sort of orange couscous salad, a cabbage slaw, and a refreshing cucumber and mint salad. Small portions, but I felt quite sophisticated to be eating in 3 courses (4 if you counted the coffee) while reading all by myself.
The pide was much more like a pizza than I was anticipating. I mean, I know they said it was a Turkish pizza, but they didn’t say anything about there being cheese on it. Not that this was a problem—I just don’t eat pizza all that often. However, this was outstanding. First of all, the crust was formed in an adorable boat shape. The toppings were very light (I would have preferred more vegetables, but that’s just me), but the slightly chewier mushrooms and cubes of fish contrasted wonderfully with the tender eggplant and spinach (stringy in the best possible sense). As for the crust, it was amazing. Not only was it chewy and slightly burned on the bottom, but it was flaky, almost like phyllo dough, although it was clearly just a regular flour base. The problem with pizza is that it never fills me up, so matter how much I eat! so I packed up the rest of my pide and ordered my Turkish coffee, which turned out to be one of the best I’ve ever had in my life!
I can never tell whether sugar has been added to the coffee or whether it is somehow naturally sweet. I feel like if sugar had been added, I would be able to tell. Anyways, it was served in a doll-sized china cup, and the aftertaste was almost better than the taste of the coffee itself. Drinking Turkish coffee is a strange sensation: at the top, it’s thin, just like drinking tea or hot water, but the presence of the grounds at the bottom also makes it feel thick, as though it’s coating each individual tooth. The cup was tiny, but I savored every sip.
After I paid at the register (only 11 dollars for all of that!), I checked out the tiny grocery section at the front of the store. They had rose petal jam, instant Turkish soups, tins of fried eggplant and grape leaves, pasta and couscous, as well as three things that particularly intrigued me: grape molasses, carob paste, and fermented carrot juice. The owner, clearly actually Turkish, was one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I asked him what to do with each of those things—he informed me that carob paste is sweet, can be eaten by the spoonful, and is “very good for the blood.” Grape molasses can be mixed with water and ice and drunk, or mixed with tahini, which sounds absolutely amazing. As for the fermented carrot juice… “I don’t think you’ll like it,” he said. “Very spicy.”
“Who knows?” I answered. “I like weird things.”
He responded by pouring me a glass. The juice was translucent and a vivid shade of purple, more like beet juice. The verdict? It was was a pleasantly spicy tingly sensation and tasted like drinking pickle juice, only slightly sweeter. I actually liked it, although I don’t think I would be drinking it by the glassful. I kept assuring him that I would come back, so I only bought the carob paste, which I’m planning on either drizzling over fresh fruit or mixing with milk to make a kind of faux chocolate milk.
He was so nice, too…. totally the kind of person I could see inviting interested customers into the tiny kitchen and teaching them how to cook. He asked me if I was a student and when I was leaving, and he kept saying “Thank you! You are wonderful!” The waiter kept saying, “stay and read as long as you want. People love to stay here and just lie back on the pillows.”
That’s the kind of place that keeps people coming back.