Thursday, May 20, 2010

Relaxed about Hygiene and Appreciating Turkish Cheese

Perhaps it's motherhood; perhaps Turkey has just relaxed me in general. But as I calmly pulled a piece of hair from the cheese on my plate this morning and went right on eating, I smiled at myself.

I should add that it wasn't human hair, but rather a piece of goat's hair -- the cheese was a lovely strong dry white goat's cheese, cured in a (hairy) goat skin sack. Deri peyniri has made up for the lack of cheddars and some of my other favourites (Appenzeller; Monk's Head) here, and the best ones come from one of the many little bakal or grocer's in the neighbourhood, not sterile or packaged in a factory.

Many of my favourite edible things here are indeed homemade and I happily consume them at my own risk -- something I would have thought twice about when I first arrived in Turkey four years ago. Most notably, I now buy all my eggs, olive oil and nar ekşisi (the gorgeous pomegranate syrup I've mentioned before -- I think one day soon I'll devote an entire post to the magical genius of this ingredient) from small local shops selling their own or a friend's product. I'd buy fresh milk from the cow's owner, too, if I could get organized enough; our supermarkets and grocer's only sell UHT milk, which I begrudgingly continue to buy.

Tête de MoineImage by vincen-t via Flickr

And now I'll leave you with a small story, just to show you how far I've come. It was October 2005 and I was on a whirlwind trip to Turkey for the first time. Determined to have me see and taste and experience everything in two short weeks, my Turkish hosts took me into a sort of delicatessen to taste nar ekşisi for the first time. The obliging proprietor took a bottle off the shelf, twisted off the lid despite the safety seal, and poured a little syrup into the cap. He extended it to me, but I declined, feeling sorry for whomever would later buy the bottle after I'd stuck my finger into its contents. My surprise turned to shock, however, when my guide took the proffered red cap and with one swift movement lifted it to his lips and let the syrup run into his mouth.

Unimpressed with that particular brand, he shook his head and repeated the taste test with another bottle, while the proprietor nonchalantly screwed the cap back on the first bottle and returned it to the shelf. Needless to say, I was left speechless.

No comments:

Post a Comment