Köln

I just got back from a sneaky girlie weekend in Köln (Cologne), Almanya (Germany).  I had the grip the whole time I was there which certainly put a bit of a dampener on things but still as it was my first time visiting I tried to get out and see as much as I could.

Cologne

So because I like my lists today’s list is 10 things I have learned about Almanya over my girlie weekend:

1. Alcohol is an acceptable bevy at any time of day. No shit.  I stepped out at 7 in the morning to go buy Starbucks and watched 4 well suited young men wandering down the street with a briefcase in one hand and a bier in the other.  I can only assume they worked in the financial district … or maybe they were lawyers.

2. Pork worship. Upfront I am ok with this type of worship.  Hallelujah and all that.  Bacon.  Ham.  Salami.  Jerky.  OMG – crackling!  Again any time of day is a good time for domuz (pork).  Why not start your day with a plate of bacon with crackling on the side before snacking on some jerky to tide you over until holy hell – just look at what they serve up for dinner!  Yikes.

Cologne 163. Köln Christmas markets are the place to be. Where else can you wear dancing tree hats or a Santa suit while drinking glühwein (red wine heated with spices) before munching down a sausage sanga and finishing it off with the more festive feuerzangenbowle (red wine infused with rum)?  It is all about Christmas and the more Christmassy you are the better!  If you are not into Christmas get the hell out of dodge ‘cause you are going to be the odd man (or woman) out!

4. Germans are tall! I mean freakishly tall.  How tall are these people?  I’m like a tiny little oompa loompa next to most of them.

5. The Gothic styled Cathedral in Koln is a treat to view and is monumental in stature. It can seat 40,000 people and took nearly 700 years to build.  That’s a really long time considering it was built by Germans who are renowned for their efficiency.  If it was built by the Turks we would still be arguing over the right paperwork before the first foundation could be laid.

cathedral

6. Back to food.  Sauerkraut and lahana (cabbage) are again an any time of day food.

7. More food. Deep fried camembert and maydanoz (parsley)!  Why is it deep fried?  Bilmiyorum but damn it was delicious!

8. Still on food. Ekmek (bread).  Did you know there are over 300 different types of bread in Germany?  That is all.

9. Everything is closed on a Sunday. Well not churches and probably not the brothels either (prostitution is legal in Germany) but shops are which kind of sucks.  Sundays are also known as a quiet day so no mowing of the lawns either.  I guess it’s so you can get over that monumental hangover that you have from all the bier and feuerzangenbowle that you have consumed.

10. David Hasslehoff! I already knew he was a thing over in Germany but to hear his music blasting through the speakers at our hostel on a constant loop was a little hard to handle.  Well done though David.  Well done.

hasslehoff

Prost!

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, loves their pork at any time of day and also loves Türkiye. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

How to Barbeque like a Turk

I know how to barbeque.  I am a good Aussie girl and was taught the art of barbeque by the Zen Master of Barbeques – my Dad.  His barbeque boot camps were the stuff legends were made of and anything he put on his barbeque would be cooked to perfection every single time without a drop of beer ever being spilt.  Yep I was taught by the Master and have crazy barbequing skills but here, in Turkiye, all my rad skills taught to me by my Dad are thrown out the window.  The reason?  In Turkiye a barbeque just isn’t a barbeque – its Mangal!

Mangal means to barbeque but it also is the name of the itsy, bitsy, teeny, weeny apparatus that the Turks use to cook their barbeque on and let me tell you a mangal is, in fact, an event.  To mangal takes time.  Preparation of the food and preparation of the barbeque itself – it is a commitment but the end results are always a party for your tastebuds.

Adana mangal

Like households all over the world a caveman-like primeval instinct will take over a Turkish male and it is for him to prepare fire while the females slice and dice in the kitchen preparing the meats and salads.

Watching Turkish men prepare the mangal is an experience in itself.  First they disappear into the nearest forest hunting firewood returning with, in their expert opinion, what is the best firewood ever collected.  If there is more than one Turkish man then they will need to be fierce debate over the quality of their firewood because, of course, it’s all about the size of the wood isn’t it ladies?  Once half a forest has been accumulated by our men it is time to stack the mangal.

Stacking an art form and has been known to cause WWIII on more than one occasion (in our family at least).  Like that age old question of “what came first the chicken or the egg” with mangal it is all about how you prepare the fire to get the ultimate heat.  The correct mix of charcoal briquettes and firewood set in the correct manner should ensure the perfect mangal which should, in theory, ignite with ease and, after its initial blazing inferno, should burn down to a grey ash – the perfect heat for cooking.

BBQ 1

While all this is going on I can usually be found in the kitchen helping (or hindering) my sister in law who is frantically prepare enough food for an army.  Tavuk (chicken) is usually coated with salcha (biber paste), kimyon (cumin) and kırmızı biber (paprika) while the balik (fish) will be marinated in a little zeytin yağı (olive oil) and limon (lemon).  My favourite, and usually my job when and if I ever put down my glass of wine, is to prepare the mincemeat kebabs.  These are so simple that my sister in law knows I won’t stuff them up.  Ready?  It’s as easy as mixing the kıyma (mincemeat), karabiber (black pepper), toz biber (red chilli powder), kimyon (cumin), onion (soğan) and kırmızı biber (red capsicum/pepper).  I use as much or as little as I like as there is no exact recipe so basically I can’t fail.

BBQ 3

Returning with the meats to the mangal which should by now be the hot coals and ash (remember grey ash is the best ash) the men come into play again where they stand over the food and discuss everything from politika to futbol.  One of us ladies have to appear and warn them that the meat is going to be overdone to which we will receive a hearty tamam or tessekuler and a request for another bira.  I usually laugh about now because it doesn’t matter where you are beer is always a pre-requisite for a barbeque.  A final argument about too much tuz (salt) or perhaps how many times the meat has been turned ensues before finally a mountain of meat is hauled off the mangal and to your table which is now full with numerous salads and ekmek (bread).

BBQ 2 (2)

Don’t forget you also need plates of meze to finish off your barbeque.  A quick and easy one and a favourite of mine is Biber Ezmesi.  Cook your biber (no not Justin but probably justifiable) on the mangal as soon as the initial inferno has died down.  Once cool quickly peel them and cut them finely as well as a couple of domates (tomatoes).  You can cheat and use a blender on low but my sister in law swears that cutting by hand makes all the difference.  Mix them with zeytin yağı, nar şurubu (pomegranate juice), two cloves of sarımsak (garlic) and maydanoz (flat leaf parsley) and you have a wonderful meze or relish to add to your table.

biber-ezmasi

If you are travelling to Turkiye this summer make sure you find a restaurant that serves mangal or, even better, buy your own mangal (they are incredibly cheap) and go to your closest piknik spot and prepare your own.  Most butchers sell the mincemeat already prepared with spices for kebabs and even the chicken coated in salcha.  Grab some lamb ribs and marinate them in olive oil and lemon – amazing – or maybe head to the fish market and haggle with the fish mongers for the best fish the Adriatic has to offer.

BBQ 5

If you are unsure what to buy ask your closest Turk and he will give you his expert mangal advice.

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like me, lurve to barbeque and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

The Return

Daughter and I have finally settled back in from our holiday in Australia.  Visiting Australia.  I was a visitor, a tourist if you must, visiting the place of my birth and what I have learnt from this visit?  I learnt that Sydney and Australia is a fecking beaut place to live.

SHB

Mother nature did us a major and the weather was sensational.  It didn’t rain.  It didn’t even think about raining.  Beautiful, albeit cold, winter days.  Every day.  Fresh air.  Lush gardens.  Grass.  GRASS!  We are the only people in the Village with grass in our garden.  Grass is, of course, seen as a luxury item as everyone else utilises every inch of their land.  Deli yabanciler (crazy foreigners).

It was nice to not be on the cusp of a war zone too staying in beachside Collaroy.  Yes I gloss over Syria and its issues but Mersin is approximately 150k from the Syrian border.  We are safe obviously or I would not even think about living here but there is always an underlying threat, the knowledge I guess, that we are not too far from an area of such unrest.  Plus there is the whole Israel-Palestinian issue, the Middle East is a powder keg ready to blow and even Ukraine to the north is a mess.  Bloody hell!

Friends and family of course.  Obviously Australia wins on this front as well.  I am blessed to have some of the best friends in the world.  Friends that are always there with open arms.  What I wouldn’t do for one more boozy lunch or one more hug from my girls.  Of course this is difficult for Daughter as she has her family, her cousins that she adores, in the Village.  She has many friends in the Village but for me Sydney and Australia will win every single time.

friends

Speaking of boozy lunches I don’t think you can beat an Aussie Red.  Australian wines really are some of the best in the world.  I would go so far as saying that Turkish wine is swill at best and really, really expensive!

Medical care wins in Australia over Turkey as well (well duh!).  Australia has Government facilitated Medicare and even though you pay through the tooth for many things (including the dentist) visiting the doctor here is a much easier process (mainly because everyone speaks English).  So I am now drugged up for the next 12 months (my medicine cabinet is overflowing) and I have been poked and prodded and given a clean bill of health.

Shopping was a bonus too for me in Sydney.  My Rubenesque physique is now adorned in new clothes.  Oodles of new clothes.  I no longer need to wear the same jeans every single day.  My credit card did take a beating and we did have to send home 10 kilos by post but at least I now have an outfit for any occasion which is a good thing as we have at least 4 weddings to go to over the coming weeks.  Daughter’s opinion differs on this front as well as the styles in Turkey are a lot more varied and on trend.  For Daughter clothing in Turkiye is also a LOT cheaper as well.

Bacon.  Ding!  Ding!  Ding!  Winner!!!  Lots of exclamation points here.  Yes.  Bacon.  That is all.

bacon

Sydney did have a few downsides too.  It was so damn expensive.  Food was expensive.  Clothing was expensive.  Petrol was expensive (actually petrol is expensive in Turkey too).  I guess I have had it too cushy here in Turkey with 50 kuruş for 1 kilo of tomatoes (about AU$0.25) while they were AU$4.50 in Sydney (TL9).  Plus the fresh food is not particularly fresh.  Ick!

Peak hour traffic did my head in too.  What a bloody mess.  We had a few early morning starts and fighting my way from the Northern Beaches to the City was diabolical to say the least.  It was nice to be behind the wheel again although my first few attempts at parking were a little less than successful.  Daughter likened my parking skills to a Turkish person so I really have acclimated haven’t I?

traffic

I think I can sum Sydney up as “Real Life”.  My friends are all working.  My family are all busy (some might say too busy to find the time to see me or even call).  The cost of living is high and the stress levels are even higher.  I know that if I too were living in Sydney I would be working.  My stress levels would be off the chart (visiting my old place of work proved that beyond the shadow of a doubt) and Daughter, The Turk and I would be miserable.  Real life sux!

The Village also has another bonus (well along with The Turk).  It has My Hurley Dog.  I love My Hurley Dog.  I missed My Hurley Dog and he missed me!

Hurley

 

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, love Australia and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.

Toilet Humor

I had to laugh when I saw the recent memes doing the rounds regarding the toilet situation in Sochi.  I wonder if any of the journalists who have spent the last few days complaining about the less than stellar facilities have ever been to a country where the pressure in the pipes is not really sufficient to handle your squares.  I mean that wipes (hehe) out at least half of the world so are these journalists on their first overseas assignment?  Have they never been south of the border before?

Image

When The Turk and I first discussed building a home in the Village I questioned the plumbing situation.  It is not like I fill the bowl or anything but I need the necessities here people – “will I be able to flush my toilet paper down the toilet?”  Yes that is all I want and anyone who has holidayed in Turkey or Greece or, well, many eastern European countries, Asian countries, South American countries (again at least half the world) know “DON’T PUT THE TOILET PAPER DOWN THE TOILET!”.

What I have never understood about the technicalities of Turkish plumbing is the fact that you can drop a rather large kaka in your toilet and it will disappear down the s-bend with no difficulties but god help you if you even placed one square of toilet paper in that same toilet.  The little fucker will block up your toilet from now until judgment day.

The Turk tells me I should be thankful that at least my toilet is of the sit down variety because originally the plumber was going to install squat toilets in both the ensuite and main bathroom.  Seriously?  To quote Roger Murtaugh “I’m getting too old for this shit”.  I mean literally my knees would have given out on me by now.

The first night Daughter and I slept in our new home I will tell you I did a kaka and yes I put that toilet paper in the toilet.  It was an exciting moment – not the kaka the flushing of the paper.  A week or so later I had a telephone call from The Turk back home in Australia, “Jane we have a problem.”

“Huh?”  Picture the total confusion in my voice and on my face.  Thankfully we were not circling the moon at the time.

“You blocked up the toilet!”

“Me?  No!  It works fine.”  And it did because I had been flushing paper down it all week.

“Darling no paper down the toilet!”

“But . . . but . . . you said it would be fine.  I don’t understand.”

I really didn’t understand but what I subsequently found out that my brother in law (who had been parking his car in our basement at the time) had to call the plumber practically on a daily basis to have our pipes cleaned out as there was an overflow of excrement in the basement that was flowing towards his precious car.  He was too scared (read that as too embarrassed) to tell us so kept paying for the plumber himself!

Five months down the track and I have been conditioned to placing my toilet paper in the bin provided.  I hate it of course.  It is so unhygienic.  I have to scrub my hands like Meredith Grey going into lifesaving surgery after I clean that bin out and then there is the walk of shame to contend with.  What is the walk of shame you wonder?  It is not enough that you have to take your garbage down the street and around the corner to the large industrial bins for collection but when you know you are walking down the street carrying your used toilet paper or other sanitary items and then are stopped by a random on the street with a merry “Gunaydin”, honestly, I just want to die!

Birthday Lunch

Daughter took me out for my belated birthday lunch today.  We left the Village behind us, passed by the historical (and chaotic) Carsi and travelled west to the more European inspired area of Mersin for lunch at the new Marina.

Image

Arriving at the Marina is akin to arriving back in Sydney and going for a day at Darling Harbour.  Lots of sunshine, tourists, designer shops and European-styled restaurants.  Daughter picked a great looking restaurant that had good old fashioned burgers and, although it was empty when we arrived, 20 minutes into our lunch we were surrounded by a bus load of German tourists who appeared to be drinking their way around Turkey.  They were travelling from Alanya and were expecting to continue their historical tour of Turkey by visiting Tarsus this afternoon.  Honestly I cannot imagine how they will fare wandering around all the historical sites that Tarsus has to offer – I should watch the Haber (news) this evening to see if there was a group of German tourists arrested for disturbing the peace.  They were a very rowdy bunch but Daughter thought they were excellent value and befriended them.  She was having an awesome time.  She taught them some Turkish swear words and they reciprocated by teaching her some not so appropriate German.  It’s great to have a multi-lingual child!

Image

After lunch we spent time in the sunshine just wandering along the waterfront.  It was such a lovely afternoon – we stopped for cay at a tea house, Daughter befriended some puppies (and tried to convince me to take one home) and we brought freshly roasted chestnuts to nibble on while watching old men fishing from the wharf.  As the sun began to set on my birthday day some ominous looking clouds appeared on the horizon.  Rain?  Nah!  But we better find a dolmus just in case.

Image

Incidentally it has only rained four times in Mersin since September.  That’s over 120 days of sunshine.  I get quite excited when I see the clouds and the prospect of rain but it just never eventuates.  I know that Australia is sweltering in 50 degree heat and America is suffering with their “polar vortex” but I must say that winter in Mersin is extremely pleasant.  So lucky!

Image

_________________________________________________________________________

Loving this blog? Please help me build my audience and share with like minded people who, like you, love to travel and love Turkey. You can also subscribe or like me on Facebook for all updates.