The Silence of the Lambs

I don’t eat an awful lot of meat here in Turkiye.  It just doesn’t have the same taste and consistency and, frankly, my hips are thankful that I give meat a miss more often than not but the one thing I cannot avoid here in the village is my neighbours preparing a Feast of Thanks to Allah.

I always know when a neighbour is preparing a feast.  The huge pots are delivered early in the day to enable a thorough cleaning prior to cooking.  Then sheep, goats and even cows are delivered for inspection before a choice is made.  It is usually at that time I disappear and don’t come back out until morning although yesterday I walked straight past a sacrifice just as it started – devastation.  I understand why an animal is sacrificed.  I understand why it is important to the worshipper but I find the whole practice of an animal being put to death cruel and I choose to not take part in the preparation.  Before you cry “but you still eat meat” yes I do.  I am a hypocrite – I get it.

Bayram feast

The Turk’s family prepared a feast recently in memory of his mother’s passing.  This is called Yas Bayram (mourning bayram).  I know that two sheep lost their life in our driveway and I know that everyone in my family stayed up the whole night to prepare a meal of meat, rice (cous cous) and chickpeas that are then given to neighbours and the less fortunate in Refika’s memory.  I did not eat the meal that was prepared by the family and I apparently offended my sister in law in the process.  I do not regret this decision.  I miss The Turk’s mum a lot, she has a wonderful woman and think her fondly each and every day.  I do not need to take the life of an animal to remember her.

The Turk argues with me that I ate a butt load of meat back in Australia (which is why my butt is now a wide load) but more importantly I need to immerse myself in all aspects of the Turkish culture and take part in these village rituals.  I took part – I helped pay for the feast.  That is more than enough for me.

Growing up in the Sydney suburbs I was not privy to the inner workings of a farm or an abattoir.  Yes I am part of the meat and two veg lifestyle but the meat that I ate was purchased in packages and its blood isn’t staining my driveway.  An animal still died to feed me but not by my hand or by my husband’s hand or a neighbour and certainly not where I can see it die.  I guess you can ignore a lot when it is not in your face.

Daughter has often gone fought with her conscience about eating meat but here in Turkiye she pretty much has become a vegetarian.  She will not eat chicken (as she hears them clucking on every corner).  She will not eat cows or sheep (as they are often in the garden across the street although she will eat a hamburger – go figure) and she will never eat fish (more about the taste than anything else).  She is happy with her decision and I am quite proud of her for standing by her quasi morals (other than the hamburger that is).

I still love a steak and the next time I find myself at the Newport Arms Hotel (best pub lunch in Sydney) I will order the steak with pepper sauce and salad *drool* but here in Turkiye I will continue to maybe pass on the meat depending on each situation but what I wouldn’t do for a pub lunch.   Mmmmm.

Pride and Prejudice – Turkish Style

For the sake of this post the character of Miss Elizabeth Bennett will be portrayed by Daughter.  Mr Darcy is The Boyfriend and Wickham is The Bad Boy/Stalker.

It was a pretty exciting evening at ours on Friday night.  I made Spaghetti and meatballs.  No that was not the exciting part of our evening.

I am well aware that Miss Bennett has a “boyfriend” whom I have named Mr Darcy.  Sidenote: for illustration purposes I have included this photo of Colin Firth as Mr Darcy (definitely the best Mr Darcy).  I still remember seeing this BBC show the first time and going “Woah” when he climbed out of the pond at Pemberley.  Anyway Mr Darcy in this little post goes to the same school as Miss Bennett.  They call each other boyfriend and girlfriend and she has updated her social status appropriately as “In a Relationship”.  Help me please!

Mr Darcy

So Mr Darcy and Miss Bennett continue to flaunt their relationship at school with wistful glances and perhaps a little hand holding as they walk the corridors between class.  While true love blossoms there is a thorn – a thorn who also has love for Miss Bennett but whose affections are not coveted.  Yes. We have a Wickham to our Mr Darcy (so to speak).

Miss Bennett calls him “The Stalker” but let’s stay in character and call him Wickham.  Wickham is in her class and since school started in September he has attempted to gain her favour with bunches of wildflowers on her desk, the occasional chocolate and, yes, even love letters hidden in her school bag.  Miss Bennett does not covert this attention and, in fact, has told Wickham in no uncertain terms to go and get f*cked (definitely not very ladylike) but Wickham perseveres with his unwanted affections.  He sits behind her in class and draws on her school shirt with a permanent marker – “I love you” in English.  His eyes watch her as she is in the school yard with her friends (or with Mr Darcy) and has recently started following her home from school of an evening.  Very stalker-esque yeah?

Miss Bennett has mentioned Wickham to me before.  She told me that she dislikes Wickham immensely and even told me about an altercation a few weeks back between Wickham and Mr Darcy.  I warned Miss Bennett that she should keep away from Wickham and that perhaps he is not a very good friend.  On a serious note as a parent when do you say that a child has crossed the line, that the child’s intense need for friendship has become too unwanted by your child or that his behaviour makes your client feel scared or feel like a victim?  In Turkey children are not taught the same boundaries that are taught at school in Australia.  Is it considered cute when a boy harasses a little girl and follows her home each day? At what point do you say to your daughter – this kid is a psychopath! Run, don’t walk!?!

Anyway on Friday night Wickham followed Miss Bennett home yet again.  Miss Bennett yelled at him to leave her alone but he continued to follow her.  Miss Bennett proceeded to run the last couple of hundred metres passing her Uncle Vito on the way home.  Vito (being Vito) stopped Miss Bennett and, after learning what had happened, chased after Wickham giving him a piece of his mind followed by a fast whooping.  Wickham ran into the darkness in tears while Miss Bennett rushed home yelling about the embarrassment she has suffered.

After a couple of deep breaths we sat down to our spaghetti and meatballs when we had a knock at the door.  The polis had arrived.  It seemed that the whooping Vito gave Wickham had understandably upset his family who also arrived on our doorstep shortly after the polis.  Wickham began yelling about his love for Miss Bennett and the fact that Mr Darcy had stolen Miss Bennett’s heart.  He explained that he had in fact had dibs on Miss Bennett and Mr Darcy should be reprimanded for his behaviour.  Miss Bennett reply was a fast “F-you” (much to my embarrassment and to the shock of the other adults in the room) while Wickham’s parents yelled at Wickham so furiously that I couldn’t even begin to grasp was what being said.  Moments later Vito came running through the door grasping a large stick (no doubt ready to give Wickham another whooping) while the polis tried in vain to calm the whole crazy down.

After a lot of accusations and finger pointing Wickham has agreed to not follow Miss Bennett as she walks home anymore.  The Turk, in his wisdom, has decided to go to the school (yet again) to ensure that Wickham is appropriately dealt with and Vito has promised to not attack children for no good reason (yes I think it was for good reason).

The Turk and I are hopeful that Wickham has learned his lesson.  He will become merely a blip in our memories as Darcy and Miss Bennett continue their fledgling friendship (should I say relationship(?)) into the future.  Finally we are all hopeful that Vito refrains from chasing children with sticks.

Never a dull moment in our house – for sure.

Turkiye’s Very Own Polar Vortex

In case you have been living under a rock the past few days social media in Turkiye has been blowing up with both the expats and Turks alike going on about the crazy cold weather we are having right now.  Soğuk, çok soğuk! (It’s cold, very cold!). Talk about “Keeping up with the Kardashians”, Turkiye goes and freezes over just to be like their fancy neighbours.

All over the country the weather has been abysmal.  Villages and towns have been snowed in, flights cancelled and even here in Mersin hell has literally frozen over.  I mean really – it snowed!  I know right!?!

Mersin snow

This shouldn’t happen.  I was only writing here about how hot it was a couple of months back.  This is an extreme turnaround and it really isn’t acceptable to me.

Electricity is scant and this transforms The Turk from his manly man Turkish self into, well, into a bit of a girly princess.  As expected this transformation has also pushed The Turk into his “I want to go back to Australia” phase of his re-entry into Turkish life.  We don’t have a soba here (Turkish fireplace) so when the electricity dies then icicles begin to form over any uncovered appendage.  The Turk is definitely concerned about his favourite appendage freezing and breaking off and has been checking it regularly.  Last night I threatened to move into the Hilton just for a hot bath and internet access (side note – what is it with Turkey not having instantaneous hot water?  Install a fecking Rheem for Christ’s sake!!).  But no I stayed and suffered in silence, well relative silence compared to The Turk that’s for sure!

But it is not just us who are suffering in the cold.  I feel for the stray animals that live in our village.  The kediler are breaking into any house with an open door trying to find a warm spot and I swear I saw a pack of kopekler milling around an open fire on an empty block.  I am not going to say that they started the fire but … it looked very suspicious.  My Hurley Dog is refusing to go outside and when I finally got him outside his pee froze mid-stream!  True!  I swear!!

I know I am ridiculous.

Yesterday was my birthday.  Did you know?  Yah happy birthday and all that!  I made a pretty strong statement on FB the other night saying it might be cold but there’s no way it will snow and certainly not on my birthday.  I will eat my hat.  Well as I was reminded by a well-wisher yesterday that it did in fact snow – soooo – would I like fries with that hat?  Humfph!  The Turk also reminded me of my wording off this morning and handed me his beanie and the salt and pepper shakers.  I didn’t eat it as that was his hat.  I agreed to eat mine.  Technicality?  Yep but I am going with it.

So happy birthday to me – and welcome to the Ice Age!  Bbrrrr!

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My Mautaugh Realisation

Does anyone remember that episode of “How I Met Your Mother” when Ted made a list of all the things that he and his friends were all too old to do?  Barney then ran out to prove Ted wrong putting himself through absolute misery only to be forced to accept the final reality that he is growing older.  Yep I am Barney.  I am Mautaugh.  I am me.

Mautaugh

Anyone who knows me personally knows that I am not a big fan of New Years Eve.  Highly overrated.  In fact my very first post all the way back here was about how my New Years Eve blew bat balls but that particular NYE brought me to Turkey and to my new life.  A  dramatic story.  This one – not so much.

We need to rewind a few weeks to really gain insight as to how My Mautaugh Realisation came into being.  We begin at an expat Christmas party where a party person (who shall remain nameless) told me I looked pretty good for 49!  What.  The.  Royal.  Feck!?!?!  Being full of the holiday spirit (which is pretty hard to locate in Mersin) I chose to take this backhanded compliment (was it a compliment?) with a grain of salt and party on regardless of my obviously (to everyone but me) aging and decrepit self.

Then last week I was on a dolmuş when an older lady (shall we say slightly older than me) offered me her seat.  This in itself is unusual as it is normally only boys or men that stand to offer a seat however in this instance she called me yenge (aunt).  Are.  You.  Shitting.  Me?!?!  Biytch you look more haggard that I have ever looked.  Please!

Which brings us to yesterday.  New Years Eve.  It started well.  I got interviewed by the local television station as an expat and what it was like to be in Mersin for New Years Eve.  I had lunch in my favourite café at Ataturk Park and it was playing all my favourite tunes.  From INXS to Rick Astley it was an actual dance party and I was loving life.  Then … I went to the hairdresser.

In Turkey you can go for a wash and style or blow dry for next to nix.  In fact 8TL or AU$4.00.  See – next to nix.  Anyway while there my usual hairdresser told me that she was going to curl my hair as it is way too thin to blow straight.  Excuse me?  She then handed me a little ball of my hair as a gift.  O.M.F.G!  What is going on?  First I am aged to 49, then suddenly I am a yengi to a haggard beast of a woman and now my hair is falling out like my grandmother (no I am not going to mention Daughter’s Alopecia although she took great pleasure in bringing it up and offering me her hair tonic) this morning.

Like my hair my good mood gurgled down the drain and I started my New Years Eve celebration slightly dark.  Arriving at our destination I perked up considerably (although when I found how much I was paying for a bottle of wine I felt slightly violated).  By midnight I had danced until I just could not dance any more.  I learned that he (or she) who holds the hankie wields a lot of power on the dance floor of a Turkish restaurant.  I drank more Raki than a sensible person should although I still detest the taste of Raki and finally I found myself running through a portakal grove throwing oranges at strangers while watching fireworks as the New Year rolled in.  By 2am I was knackered only to find out that there were no more dolmus and no taksiler to be found.  So no bus and no taxi.  Now what?  Hitchhike?  With my 12 year old?  No I had to wait for my brother in law (who was with the band) and so I found myself being the last people to leave the lokanta at 3.45 this morning – not bad for an apparent 49 year old!

I woke this morning covered in huge bruises (no doubt from an orange pummelling), a broken heel, makeup running down my face and not much memory of how I actually got home.  At that moment … I had … My Mautaugh Realisation.

I am definitely getting too old for this shit!

Herkesin yeni yıl kutlu olsun.  Happy New Year everyone.

Daughter’s Big Bang Theory

As my regular followers will no doubt recall Daughter has come to blows with the Din Öğretmeni (Religion Teacher) more than once regarding her religious beliefs so this following tale should not surprise many of you.

Yesterday in Din Daughter’s Öğretmen explained to the students that they should not put up “Noel” trees as it allows students to be influenced by consumerism brought into favour by western influences.  During the months of December and January students should concentrate on their scriptures and on learning about Allah.  One of Daughter’s friends piped up and said that Daughter had a Noel tree and Daughter said, “No I have a Christmas tree”.

The conversation went down a little like this:

Öğretmen:          Are you Catholic?

Daughter:            No.

Öğretmen:          Is your father?

Daughter:            No.  He is Muslim.

Öğretmen:          Is your mother?

Daughter:            (plainly being a pain in the ass) No.  She is a practicing Buddhist.

Well at that point the Öğretmen went bright red and Daughter was certain that she was going to have a conniption.  All around Daughter kids were giggling and Daughter was, of course, enjoying the limelight immensely.

Öğretmen:          Well what religion are you?

Daughter:            I don’t believe in one God.

Öğretmen:          (clearly bothered by this statement) What?

Daughter:            I do believe in a higher entity.  I do believe in good versus evil.  I don’t believe that there is one right or wrong God or one right or wrong religion.

Öğretmen:          But who made you?

Daughter:            My Mum and Dad.

At this stage the class were laughing hysterically and the Öğretmen realises that they have moved from a Religious class to a Sex Ed class.

Öğretmen:          But who made the birds and the flowers and the trees?

Daughter:            It all started with the Big Bang – BANG!

big bang

The Turk has been called up to the school this morning.  He is wishing he stayed in Australia right now.  I am glad I am not going as I find the whole thing hilarious!

BANG!

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The Return of the Turk

I had many, MANY comments and remarks regarding this recent post about The Turk.  Most of the comments were very positive but there were a few that, well frankly, scared me out of my socks.  Internet trolling at its very best.

Now I want to start by saying that I don’t make this shit up!  It is just too ridiculous to even contemplate so, after a short drumroll – rat tat tat tat – I give you a new story.

The Turk left Sydney at 6 am on Tuesday morning – so about 9 pm Monday night Turkish time.  He was upgraded – lucky buggar – and spent the first 13 hours of his journey sequestered in business class and enjoying all the luxuries associated with such a class.  After a 4 hour stopover in Dubai he continued his flight onto Istanbul arriving shortly after 5 pm last night.  Yes Australia is a long way from Turkey – and he’s not even home yet.

He gave me a quick call from Istanbul saying he was feeling a bit poorly.  He had a headache and had had a bleeding nose on the second part of his journey.  Well me being me I immediately started to have a freak out but he told me he was fine and was waiting on his connecting flight which was to have him arrive in Adana at 10 pm.

His brother Akan went to Adana to meet him while I stayed home and made lamachun and salads for his arrival.  11 pm came and went.  Midnight came and went. 1 am, 2 am – they both came and went.  His brother’s mobile was turned off.  The Turk’s mobile was not yet connected so that was not working.  Where the feck was he?

Had he had a heart attack and was in hastanesi?  Had the plane gone down?  Had they had an accident driving home through the torrential rainfall that we had over the past 24 hours?  Holy crap!  He hasn’t signed my kimlik documents!  Yes I am sorry to say that that went through my head.

By 3 am I was completely having a meltdown.  We had not had any electricity for most of the day (and all of the evening) so I couldn’t even check on the internet if there was any news that I could integrate into my over active imagination (nightmares of flights over Ukraine come to mind here).

3.35 am and Akan’s truck pulls into the driveway.  Where the feck have you been?

Oh we went for corba!

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God give me the strength.

Anyway this morning he hands me a Duty Free bag.  Exciting.  Presents.  I know what you’re thinking.  Jewellery maybe or some French perfume?  Nope.  Three bottles of good Aussie plonk.

I know I might complain about The Turk a lot of the time, alright all of the time, but … he really gets me.

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I (Didn’t) Feel The Earth Move

We have had a few tremors here in Mersin over the past days.  To be completely honest with you I did not feel any of them when they struck despite being at the epicentre of the first quake in Mezitli on Saturday.

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One of the many haber sites that subscribe to sent me their news roundup this morning with a few vaguely boring posts which I glanced over but then one post stood out with its heading “City Wiped Off The Map”.

Um excuse me?

It seems that they were not actually talking about Mersin today, they were talking about Mersin or more specifically Soli Pompeipolis which was flattened by earthquake in 527AD.

Soooo not the earthquake that happened on Saturday yeah?

The next post went on to discuss a proposed nuclear power plant and its obvious danger should there be a sizable earthquake.  Now I don’t want to sound like a Negative Nancy but how sensible is it to build a nuclear power plant in a country that has earthquakes, real earthquakes not these little baby things that are currently niggling around.  Did we not learn anything from Japan?  Surely the all mighty dollar (or lira) is not more important that the environmental impact and potential danger to life?

Regardless this is definitely journalistic sensationalism at its very best.  Jeeze you would think it was Fox News or perhaps a Murdoch newspaper the way they were acting!

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10 Things I Hate About The Turk

Those of you who follow my blog will know that The Turk has been in Australia for a little over 3 months now.  His original plan of holidays and fun times down in Oz turned into a medical emergency and him being stuck in Australia until the Cardiologist gave him the all clear which, fortunately or unfortunately depending how you look at things, he got last Monday.  This means … yikes … he’s coming back in a few days!

kemal collage

I have enjoyed my single life immensely over the past few months.  I have enjoyed not sharing my bed (and the earth trembling snoring).  I have enjoyed ignoring the housework (as a good Turkish housewife should).  I have enjoyed my nights out without him and I have enjoyed my nights in without him.

I now realise that I will not only have to return to a life shared with him I also get to experience his crazy ass, typically Turkish, male antics again and so, in celebration of The Turk’s forthcoming return, I give you  – 10 things I hate about The Turk:

  • His Big Fat Turkish Ego! I think this one covers everything else on the list but his ego is the largest thing about him *nudge, nudge*.  He knows everything.  He can do anything.  He spends more time in front of the mirror than I ever have and he is the total male package.  I am sooo lucky.  He tells me so every, single day!
  • His Turkish Compass. Being Turkish and a male (or maybe just male) he will never get lost.  It is unheard of.  Impossible!  Rubbish!  And yet despite this unique ability that is akin to a superpower he can never find his kimlik.  Or his mobile.  Or his bloody wallet.  He is like a Tyrannosaurus Rex – can’t see the shit right in front of him!
  • His love of stomach turning Turkish food. Ick!  Eep!  Yikes!  With The Turk returning he will bring with him the insane need to cook sheep’s head or brain or liver or kidney or tripe.  I just vomited into my mouth.
  • His ability to act like a four year old boy. Like all Turkish men when it comes to a confrontation with their wife, The Turk will run away with his tail between his legs. He will disappear for hours on end and turn his telephone off.  All this achieves is that I want to inflict permanent damage on his measly ass!  I blame his mother.
  • His coping mechanism. Due to his recent illness I will probably let this one go but it is still worth a mention.  When The Turk comes down with man-flu his ability to operate heavy machinery or even the television remote becomes non-existent.  The world, quite rightfully, comes to an end.  Full body aching or even a simple sniffle means that he has been struck down with nothing short of Ebola.  During this period of marriage I can usually be found yelling, “Just die already” but I guess I shouldn’t do that one anymore.  I am going to need a new catch phrase.
  • His penis. The Turk loves his ding-a-ling and re-arranges said ding-a-ling at least 500 times an hour. Just leave it alone for Christ’s sake. You don’t see me touching my boobs every few seconds.
  • His penis – take two! The Turk always has sex on his mind.  All the time.  He is so freakishly obsessed with it. Will he never get bored of being horny? And why is everything related to sex?!?!  When he rang to tell me he could fly his actual words were, “The doctor said I can have sex again … oh and I can fly home as well”.  *Sigh*
  • His ability to lie. To my face.  He does it all the time.  “Darling you sing like Madonna”.  “Darling no that does not make you look enormous” or what about the “I’ll be home in 5 minutes”.  The last one is the worst.  A Turkish 5 minutes could be 5 hours, hell it could be 5 days!  Shit just ain’t true!
  • His ability to help … others. It does not matter what needs to be done The Turk is there for you.  Your neighbour’s cousin’s, aunt is moving home?  Of course The Turk will singlehandedly carry her ugly Turkish furniture down 4 flights of stairs!  A problem with your toilet?  Bob the Builder ain’t got nothing on The Turk.  A nuclear reactor in meltdown?  The Turk is all over it but God forbid if I need a light bulb changed in the stairwell!  He is AWOL.  It’s never going to happen.
  • Not only he is always right – did I mention at any stage that he is a genius – his family is also always right. His brother is always right (did you see how I highlighted that?  Can you feel the tension?).  His sister is always right.  Everyone is always right except for me.  Even if I had made the suggestion two minutes earlier it is not right unless it has been said by a family member.  Aarrghhhh!?!?

Bonus reason:

  • The inevitable reverse culture shock that will hit The Turk as soon as he sets down his suitcase. I lived through it last year, hell I blogged through it last year! He will be grumpy.  He will no doubt sulk.  He will yell it to the world, “Coming back here was a huge mistake and we should move back to Oz as soon as possible”.  This line of behaviour will carry on for a few weeks until, like a puppy, he settles into his new home albeit with a few pee puddles along the way.

He does have his good points too you know.  I don’t know what they are right now but I am sure they will come clear once he has returned home – and tidied the house.

On reflection I realise that my “10 things” would not be limited to my Turk or to Turkish men in general but wow(!) I feel like a huge weight has just been lifted off my shoulder!  Now it’s your turn.  Spill the beans people, it’s cathartic.  What annoys you about your lesser half?

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Songul’s Tepsi Kebab

December has arrived with a bang and I am pulling out my long-johns (I don’t really have long-johns) and turning up the heat here in Mersin.  The skies may be blue right now but there has been a load of snow up in the mountains behind us and enough rain to keep me indoors watching old movies and contemplating cleaning the house.

snow in mersin 2

Along with the cold weather in Mersin the menu changes to suit.  It’s starting to get too cold for a barbeque so our meat dishes need to be cooked indoors (which kind of ruins my fun).  Our garden is overflowing with Swedish chard so no doubt I will be making borek for lunch over the next few weeks.  We also have leeks, which will mean lots of soup, as well as celeriac which is another weird vegetable that I had never heard of before arriving in Mersin.  These days I serve celeriac mashed with garlic which is delicious.  Finally there is Quince everywhere so I can make my father in law’s favourite dessert and every single pomegranate tree is overflowing with ripe fruit right now so Daughter can usually be found with her cousins pilfering the fruit from the neighbour’s trees and leaving their sticky hands everywhere.  Yummo.

Last night my sister-in-law and her family came over for dinner and so I needed to prepare a dish large enough to feed 7.  Answer?  My sister-in-law’s favourite – the Tepsi Kebab or Tray Kebab.

What you need:

2 finely cut soğan (onion)

4 cloves of crushed sarımsak (garlic)

1 bunch of maydanoz (flat leaf parsley)

Cay spoon pul biber (red pepper flakes)

Cay spoon kimyon (cumin)

Tuz (salt) and karabiber (black pepper) for taste

Tereyağı (butter)

1 tbl Kırmızı biber salça (red pepper paste)

½ kilo kıyma (mince meat)

Like most Turkish recipe’s you need to get your hands dirty so mix all the ingredients really well and I mean really mix them together – your hands should be bright red along with your cheeks due to your efforts.

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Finally I press the mixture onto my kebab dish (or pizza dish or even a large oven dish) and add a couple of teaspoons of butter to keep the dish moist.  I also cut up pieces of chilli, tomato and onion for presentation.

Cooking time varies.  I prefer a low oven (say 150-160) for 30 minutes so it does not dry out.  Once it is cooked my kebab is placed on the table (in the pan) along with lavaş (flat bread) and salads.

Alright it might not look sensational but it tastes delicious!

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Afiyet olsen.

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Wankyu Gida … um?

Quick one folks.

I came across this sign today and … well … we all know my Turkish is abysmal but “Wank in food”?  Is that really what it is trying to say?  Makes you wonder what their special sauce might be.

Anyone care to translate?

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