Friday, December 16, 2011

Ahhhh, this is where I want to be today.......oh, wait a minute......

Patara, Turkey

Gocek, Turkey

Kale, Turkey

Orhaniye, Turkey

Gumusluk, Turkey
Oh wait.....

Weather for Gümüşlük, Turkey

45°F | °C
ThunderstormsMostly SunnyChance of RainChance of Rain
Partly Cloudy

Wind: N at 2 mph

Humidity: 100%66°54°64°57°64°55°66°55°

Monday, December 12, 2011

Turkish Baths....I'm not sure if I'm game.....

As a huge fan of spas when I'm on vacation to Vegas, I felt I must check out what a Turkish bath is like....I'm intrigued, yet slightly frightened (especially from watching the Michael Palin movie linked at the end of the post). 

Jean Jacques Francoise Lebarrier's A Female Turkish Hammam

Turkish baths (hammams) stem from Greek and Roman bath traditions, however they have largely gone out of fashion in recent years,  although many historic hammams continue to operate today. Baths used to be places that people mingled, socialized and gossiped while fulfilling the Islamic precept of cleanliness. During the Ottoman Empire, the Sultan's harem (consisting of his wives, mother, offspring and other female relatives) would proceed to the hamam with great ceremony, accompanied by servants bearing delicacies to help the women pass several hours lounging in the steam. The women often brought along delicately embroidered towels and slippers inlaid with ivory. Hammams have consistently been exclusive to either men or women, and not mixed. 

Bathing was part of social life, and amongst women many important occasions were celebrated at the bath, including festivities the day before weddings, "tear-drying baths" in which all the female relatives and friends of the deceased would mark the twentieth day after the death of a love one, and holiday baths on the eve of holy days. 

Traditionally, bathers wrap themselves in a pestamal, a colorful, checked cloth. Although decorative clogs with tinkling bells were historically used, many wear flip flops in hammams today.  

Bridal bath set with clogs

When entering historic hamams, one typically first step into the camekan, a square court with a fountain lined with small, private changing cubicles. Bathers spend a good chunk of their time in the hararet, a hot and steamy area with a raised marble platform (goebektas) in the center.  The goebekta is positioned above the wood or coal furnace,  and under the domed ceiling with bottle glass windows. Bathers often have a vigorous massage while lying on the warm platform.  After treatments, which also typically include scrubs, bathers often have a cold drink and stretch out on reclining couches.  

Check out this Michael Palin clip from his "Pole to Pole" series and see what you think of the Turkish bath experience. I'm a little freaked out.....I heard some of the five star hotels have a more "westernized" version that might be more up my alley....more like Ceasars Spa in Vegas!  

Monday, December 5, 2011

What the heck is Turkish Delight?

When I first heard of Turkish Delight in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe," I thought it was some made up confection that the White Witch offered to unsuspecting children. It was only years later that I actually saw a dusty box of Turkish Delight in an ethnic food mart...but, as it didn't involve chocolate, I wasn't too interested, I must admit!

However, I'm intrigued as to what Turkish Delight actually is....candy? gummy? super sweet? nutty? fruity? gelatinous? What the heck is it?

Turkish Delight

Turkish Delight dates back to the Ottoman Empire (I'll definitely be talking about them in a future post) and is also known by it's Turkish name - "lokum". Supposedly a sultan in the 1700s was tired of hard candies and demanded a new dessert alternative. A man named Bekir Effendi, who moved to Istanbul from the coast of the Black Sea, took up the challenge and used honey and molasses as sweetners, water and flour as thickener, and rosewater for flavor. He mixed the ingredients together, heated them up, and then poured the concoction in a pan slicked with almond oil to cool. He sprinkled it with powdered sugar, cut it into bite-sized morsels, and began a Turkish sensation!

Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir Confectioners shop

Bekir opened a shop has been in continuous operation in the Old City district of Istanbul for over 200 years. They have expanded to include several additional storefronts where they serve numerous Turkish sweets, as well as Turkish Delight in a variety of flavors: plain, rose, pistachio, hazelnut, walnut, almond, coconut and almond, cream, cream with cinnamon, mastic, mint, sourcherry, lemon, strawberry, orange, apricot, date, ginger, clove and coffee.

Turks are notorious for having a sweet tooth, and this is an incredibly popular treat. The confection is made of starch and sugar and is often flavored with rosewater, mastic (tree resin with a bitter/piney flavor), and lemon.  The consistency is somewhat jelly like, and can be sticky at times. The candy is cut into cubes which are dusted with icing sugar or copra (coconut) and sometimes contain pieces of nuts like walnut, pistachio and hazelnut.

I just tried to find some Turkish restaurants in San Diego to no avail, but I did find a few Mediterranean shops and restaurants that have fresh made Turkish Delight and Turkish coffee on the menu - I'll check them out and update you all soon!

apologies for November - off and running for December!

Apologies for my hiatus in November!  I can't say anything in particular caused it - I think I just needed a little travel break and to focus on the homefront a bit more.

But, I'm back and ready to explore...Turkey! I don't know if it's all the talk of thanksgiving Turkey or what, but I'm inspired:)  Here's what I know about Turkey to start with: kinda like Greece, used to be part of the Byzantine Empire, home to the Hagia Sophia - a beautiful church turned mosque, land of Turkish Delight. That's pretty much it:) I have a lot to learn!

Here's some pix to get you excited:

Turkish Marina

Chora Museum

Turkish fisherman's wife knitting by the ocean

Greek ruins in Priene

Turkish Baths

Kaputas Cove and Beach

Lamb Kebob stall

Turkish rug-maker in the Grand Bazaar

Sheep grazing near Lake Van

Sulemaniye Mosque

Temple of Hadrian

Tombs of Amyntas

Turkish Delight

Waterfront Cafe at Kumbahce Bay