As we pulled into our first port in Turkey, scenes from Aladdin started streaming through my mind. I was on a Disney fantasy kick during this trip.
Kyle and I walked around the market place, hoping to find a couple bargains and a good place for breakfast. I stopped into a shop with floor to ceiling shelves full of Turkish goodies.
When you only have a couple hours in a port, you get a little taste of the flavor of the country/city. I mean this literally. One of the flavors in Turkey we had to get a sample of was the Turkish coffee. We found out that the coffee itself is not Turkish--it's probably the same beans that we drink in the U.S. It is the style of coffee that makes it unique.
The coffee is a dense concoction with thick sludgy coffee grounds at the bottom of the cup. You don't drink this part of the coffee, but it definitely helps to give the drink an extra punch of flavor and caffeine. A nice pick-me-up when you dock at 7AM in a port!
I had the Turkish apple tea which is a tea with a subtle apple flavor. You can add a sugar cube to add some sweetness.
As Kyle and I strolled around the city, we quickly discovered that this was a tourist hot spot by the fact that every breakfast spot advertised an "Irish breakfast." This was a bad sign. All we wanted was a true Turkish breakfast. We were starting to wear down and decided to stop anywhere that at least owned a meat spit, which would indicate they eventually sold some type of Turkish food at some point in the day.
I was slowing down to look at a restaurant when an older gentleman started chatting with me, suggesting I stop for breakfast. He was perched on a little stool outside a jewelry shop and spoke perfect English. We took a seat and asked him what Turkish people usually eat for breakfast. He told us that they don't typically eat breakfast like Americans. Breakfast is usually a light meal of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, some feta and a little bread. The main course is the Turkish coffee. He waved the waiter down and spoke in Turkish, telling him that we wanted a Turkish breakfast. For 10 euros, we drank coffee and tea, munched on sweet, fresh tomatoes, crispy cucumbers, some delicious feta, and crusty bread. Best of all, we learned a lot about Turkey from our new friend, who told us to call him "Kevin" because it was easier to pronounce that his true name.
Kyle and I made up a story for Kevin, that included a tale about Kevin being a fugitive hiding out in Turkey. Kevin told us he speaks 7 languages and appeared to know everybody. He sells jewelry for his friend and tried to convince me to buy a $900 ring (I had to go into the shop after all the time and effort he spent talking to us during breakfast! I know Jasmine would do the same). When we asked him to take a photo with us and the restaurant owner, we took several photos and Kevin did not look at the camera in any of the shots! He was my Turkish mystery man.
Sometimes food can create stories, but in this case, the food tasted better because of the stories, thanks to Kevin and this Aladdin-like land.