After my second day of scuba-diving lessons in the turquoise Turkish sea, my experienced diving pals from Ankara Aqua Club knew what to do, dinner at Alanya. Hard work makes hungry and what would be better than a tasty sandwich outside a cafeteria in the street of this still winter sleepy tourist town on an early spring evening?
Despite the revolution, supermarkets are still full, everything more expensive than you really need, and thus basically it is again La Marsa Souk; the open air market on a cool late December Sunday morning in this north eastern Tunisian sea-side town. My wife and her brother go for the fruit and vegetables and then we look for what else, going home with a white porcelain teapot, a five liter printed glass bottle and a lentil formed curious looking stone that I think wants to be cut in half to show it is a septarian concretion.
On my way home for Christmas with family, before I could write down the new address of my oldest friend, the battery of my laptop went dead and I just saw fish. Not the ‘oude visch markt’ told the strange guy opening the door in the wrong street, possibly the ‘vis straat’ just around the corner in the medieval center of the little town of Zaltbommel, where indeed his son welcomed me at the door.
With the sound of their roaring skeletons still in my ears, I left with some nice eternal crystals in my pocket.
During the half year that I have been living in Ankara, I had 3 rainy days and now an Indian summer. At home we call it old wives’ summer and here they say ‘Pastırma Yazı’, like the highly spiced air-dried cured beef of Anatolian origin. This is perfect weather for late summer peppers and a colorful walk in calm and quiet Ankara’s upper middle-class neighborhood; where my office is just around the corner at the end of the road. Apart from the guy that washes his cars 3-times a day, I only meet gardeners on my rounds to keep that body from rooting in my office chair. Their head-scarfed women of the land are cleaning inside and those Indians must be gathering wood for the harsh winter that is approaching with the evening air.
At the present day village of Sart, in the Turkish province of Izmir (Smyrna), are found the ruins of the temple of Artemis Of Sardis. Artemis is the Greek goddess of the wild animals, the twin-sister of Apollo, who is the god of the domesticated herds, siblings of Zeus and Leto. This holy place was part of the former capital of the Iron Age kingdom of Lydia, which last ruler was the proverbially rich Croesus, defeated by Cyrus the Great from Persia around 2500 years ago, after the Delphi oracle had ambiguously foretold that if he attacked the Persians, a great empire would be destroyed. Continue reading
If you cook for yourself in Ankara, you need to know where to shop, like friendly Mustafa who pointed out how to find Ulus Food Market. “There is no love sincerer than the love for food”, as George Bernard Shaw once said; and .I love my food fresh and at reasonable prices. That’s why I need ‘Ulus Hali’ in the old center of Ankara where even fish is abundant, shiny, with clear eyes and red gills. Get acquainted with the friendly fishmongers, butchers, grocers and bakers. Fill-up your bags with a nice assortment of fish and meat, fresh vegetables, dried spices, bread and cookies, likely paying a fraction less than you would normally do; leaving a bit for a bottle of wine to cook with or even add some to the food, as W.C. Fields used to do so reluctantly.