Time for Baba

We have already delved into my childhood trauma of domates so today I thought I would open the door on my next therapy session – my complete retching disgust of patlıcan (aubergine or eggplant or just bleugh!).  I mean seriously even this photo of my finished recipe of Baba Ganoush cannot make it look even slightly appetizing!

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Patlıcan is not a food that I would voluntarily consume.  It is slimy.  It is bitter.  Cooked it looks a bit goopy.  All black and weird and just ugh!  And just who would want to eat something that is named after an egg but is a plant?  Does that even make sense?  And while I am at it where did the name pineapple come from?  Practically everyone else in the world calls them ananas (including here in Türkiye) but again some crazy person came up with the idea of calling it a pineapple.  Salak!

The fact is that as a kid (and a teenager and even an adult) I hated patlıcan and refused to eat it.  It was running a very close second to domates as my most hated food and I was thankful that my mother did not cook anything “foreign”.  Just to clarify “foreign” also included Spaghetti Bolognese so the idea of anything really weird like eggplant in our evening meal would be practically unheard of (although I do have hazy memories of sitting down to liver or kidneys in our little orange Formica kitchen on more than one occasion).

The first time I came to Türkiye I tried “Baba” for the first time.  Wary (as it was made from a most hated vegetable) but surprised.  I loved it.  Back in Sydney I would have never made it.  I mean why bother to prepare it from scratch when you can get it home delivered by practically any Turkish or Middle Eastern restaurant for a reasonable price – and it would no doubt taste better too.  Here in the Village though home delivery is scarce (although not unheard of) but regardless I love “Baba” here because I get to make it myself – any excuse to mangal.  The Turk has questioned before whether Daughter and I are pyromaniacs.  Whenever anyone in the family is thinking about having a barbeque we are there chomping at the bit to get around the flames.  Me for “Baba” and Daughter … well I actually DO think she might be a pyromaniac but that’s for another day.

Like most of my recipes they were passed on to me by either my darling mother in law (who I still miss every single day) or my sister in law Songul.  I do not use specific quantities or measurements I just keep adding ingredients until it tastes pretty damn good.

baba

So what you need:

2 patlıcan (aubergine), 2 biber (pepper), as many yeşil biber (green chilli) as you can handle and 3-4 domates (tomato)

4 sarımsak (garlic) cloves

Limon (lemon) juice

A good dollop of nar eksisi (pomegranate molasses) and another good dollop of zeytin yağı (olive oil).

Tuz (salt) and karabiber (pepper) to taste

To make “the Baba” you toss the patlıcan, biber and domates onto the coals of your mangal to chargrill them.

Once they are charred and soft through I peel off the skin (usually burning my fingers in the process) before cutting them up.  Some people mash or use a blender on the vegetables but I prefer a more rustic Baba plus the quicker it is finished the quicker I can consume it.  Before you go any further let the patlıcan drain for a little while to remove some of the excess juice that they build up during cooking.  Once drained I add way too much sarımsak (garlic) as well as the juice of one limon, and nar eksisi.  I season with tuz ve karabiber and finally add the zeytin yağı (olive oil) – check the consistency as it can get a little runny if there is too much olive oil.  Some people use tahini in their “Baba” but not me.  I am not a huge fan of it at any time (unless I am making hummus of course but that recipe is yet another therapy inspired post).

This recipe is so simple and I try to make it at least once a week (like I said any excuse to mangal).  If there is no mangal going on outside I can make “the Baba” by cooking the vegetables in the oven (cut a few slices into the vegetable to speed up the cooking time) or sometimes I cook it using a közmatik (a great little Türk invention to cook your patlıcan perfectly on the stovetop) but I prefer the really smoky taste that they take on when cooked on the mangal plus the flames that draw me in like a Siren calling a sailor to his death – OMG maybe I am a pyromaniac!

This, yoğurtlu patlican and acile ezme always makes up part of my meze when barbequing.  A night with the family just isn’t complete without it on the table.  I can’t get enough of it!

Afiyet olsun!

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The Art of Salça

When I first arrived here in Mersin I threw myself into Village life.  I helped harvest the nane and maydanoz from the bahçe.  I helped make the peynir (which was a story in itself) and I helped my mother in law make the salça.

Making salça (paste) is a bit of a pain in the ass to be honest.  It is messy work – so messy – but the end result is rewarding to say the least.

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Since my mother in law passed away making the salça is the one thing I continue to do each year as a bit of a celebration of her life.  I remember how happy she was that first year with me and my SIL sitting together, covered in flies and literally surrounded by kırmızı biber (red capsicum).  I remember my BIL delivering the 100kg of biber that morning and me going “seriously?”.  It was a very long day (and half of a very long night) cutting and cleaning the kırmızı biber before making the paste.  The next three weeks were spent checking my precious biber that had been mulched to ensure that they dried sufficiently to make the paste and finally salting to ensure perfection.

I have continued with the tradition for the past two years since my MIL’s passing.  This year was a little different however.  This year my SIL’s family decided to ‘help’ me and so, without my knowledge, set about preparing the biber for me.  I was devastated.  They don’t get that of course.  They were merely being helpful but to me they ruined the one piece of my mother in law that was something I treasured.

The Turk gets so frustrated with me each year and can usually be heard yelling “why don’t you just buy it at Migros?”.  Yes it is messy and a little smelly.  Yes my clothes are ruined (in fact I have a salça making outfit) which is stained a very attractive red colour and yes the roof top is also stained from an initial overflow of mulched biber but the end result is totally worth the hassle.

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Here is a shot of my MIL that first year.  She was one happy lady with the end result.

I have been asked for a receipe but I really don’t have a one to provide to you.  Like most of my recipes it relies on knowledge handed down by my MIL (or SIL) to me.  Basically we get a butt-load of bibers (photo 1) which are then cleaned and cut up (keep the seeds in unless they are seriously rotten).  A little old lady will then magically appears with a machine (seriously every year this woman arrives on my doorstep – the biber faerie – as if by magic) and all our bibers (or domates) are put though the machine to mulch them.  We then transfer the liquid up to our roof where it is salted and mixed.  It will stay in the first receptacle (photo 3) which is basically for pieces of wood with covered in plastic.  Once the liquid is partially dried (usually takes about a week) it is swapped into the huge plastic bowls (photo 4) where it stays for 2-3 weeks and is mixed 5 times a day to ensure it doesn’t burn in the sun.  100 kilos of biber make about 15 kilograms of salça which is about 5 containers which, of course, you then give to your numerous family members leaving you with two jars.  These will last me 12 months.

A recent incident with an overturned horse cart filled with domates also enabled me to use my salça skills to make some top notch tomato salça.  Double high fives for me today!  The final salça still to be completed is my hot chillies.  They are still drying (a longer process to ensure that they are as spicy as feck) but should be ready next week (if the weather stays warm – which it will after all it is Mersin).

The memory of my MIL will continue to live on in our meals with her salça – also known by me as Nene Salça.  It didnt matter what she cooked it was always superb – no doubt thanks to her salça.

Quick addition to this post – for those of you wanting to see my salça pants (also known as village pants) this is the only photo I could find.  They are now put away until next year but perhaps a sneaky paparazzi can crack a few shots before my security guards chase them away LMAO!  I did learn that day why I should wear long sleeves AND long pants when cutting up the biber.  I was literally covered in bites so now I’ve got a very attractive top that in no way matches my pants but works just fine.  Thank you to Daughter for showing my how to copy my Instagram photo – I am so computer illiterate.  I put this photo on Instagram because I thought it was hilarious.  The men sit there drinking their cay while the women work their asses off.

biber pants

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My Kedi Cat and My Hurley Dog

Two years ago today my SIL and I travelled to Istanbul to collect two of my most precious family members – My Hurley Dog and My Kedi Cat.  They had just flown 29 hours from Sydney to Istanbul via Malaysia.  Like all long haul travellers they were tired and grumpy and the last thing they wanted to do is spend the next 11 hours sitting in customs in Istanbul while we fought to get them released.

This is their story.

Kedi 3

I have mentioned before that both of my pets were rescue animals and I had no intention of leaving my fur-babies behind when we moved to Türkiye (well I had half a mind to leave My Kedi Cat behind but that’s because he hates me).  I spent many hours dealing with both Australian customs and Turkish customs ensuring I had covered every base before I finally arranged for them to be flown over. I wanted them to have an easy flight and a simple transfer into my custody at Istanbul Customs.  I was certain I had crossed every “T” and dotted every single “I” but when arriving at customs in Istanbul it was, as expected, a fecking nightmare!

My SIL and I arrived in Istanbul from Adana at 6.30am and I had arranged a return flight for 5pm.  I assumed that this would be more than enough time to collect my two fur-babies, do all the custom rigmarole and have heaps of time to get our flight home with my fur-babies in tow.

Nope!

Every single thing that could have gone wrong did go wrong.  It began with the Veterinarian not arriving to sign my babies off.  Why didn’t he arrive you wonder?  It was raining.  Poor love.  After a lot of yelling by my SIL (God bless my SIL) he was finally roused into work but did not arrive until after 3pm so basically we sat in customs for nearly 9 hours.  We weren’t allowed to leave, even a toilet break was frowned on.  We had to sit there in case the Vet arrived so we could point out our pets.  They were the only two fecking animals in customs so obviously they were fecking mine!!!!!  I spent a lot of that time in tears.  I could hear My Hurley Dog howling through the customs door but I wasn’t allowed to see him.

After being examined the Vet then questioned whether My Kedi Cat had rabies as he was vicious.  In fact the Customs officers back in Sydney had put a sticker on the cage – “Handle with Caution.  Dangerous Animal”.  After I explained that My Kedi Cat was always vicious – frankly the cat is a bit of a shit – and finally they were signed off.  But that wasn’t the end of it. There was still more paperwork and more money handed over (grease the wheels guys) before finally my two fur-babies were released into my custody.

I know a lot of expats bring their pets with them and I wonder whether flying into the more regional airports would be an easier option.  I expect that if I had taken a direct flight from the UK and arriving into, say Bodrum, then the customs guys would be quite used to nervous yabanci and would deal with them swiftly.  Perhaps but then really Istanbul is one of the biggest airports in the world.  They really should have their shit together!  It’s a domestic cat and a fecking poodle for Christ’s sake!  I know I should be thankful that my babies arrived safely because many do not.  While arranging for my babies to travel I read of many cases where domestic animals pass away en-route due to the stress and being mistreated by airport staff.  The thing is that flying is stressful for us humans I can only imagine what my fur-babies throught was going on.  Being put in cages and stuffed into a very noisy, very cold cargo hold before finally being delivered into my very relieved arms.

After collection we made our way to Domestic to catch our flight to Adana which, of course, we missed thanks to the lazy Vet.  The following flight was already booked with animals and they too would not let us on.  Finally a flight was made available at 11.30 that night that would allow My Hurley Dog in cargo and I would carry My Kedi Cat on my lap in the cabin.

Got home at 3am the following day.  My Hurley Dog was ecstatic and showed his excitement freely.  My Kedi Cat bit me and hid under the bed.  I chose to sleep on the couch for the next few days – just in case the cat tried to kill me in my sleep!

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Two years on and My Hurley Dog and My Kedi Cat have settled into life in a Turkish village.  My Hurley Dog has not made many friends with the village dogs as they are all a lot larger than him.  They are farm dogs and not prepared to deal with My Hurley Dog’s precious, precious ways but he does have lots of people to hang around with.  He gets fed at every door (although not usually allowed in every door) and more often than not gets a pat on the head from visitors.  On the other hand My Kedi Cat who, back in Sydney, was a very high maintenance cat seems to fit right now.  He disappears each evening with Evil, My Stairwell Cat, and returns the next morning covered in dirt, mud, thistles, whatever.  He drags himself onto the bed and sleeps until evening.  In fact the other night I was taking My Hurley Dog for a walk and I found him in a dumpster.  So yeah – he is now a Turkish Cat.  It’s called assimulation people!

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A Little Bit of Everything – and a lot of Nothing!

I have found it difficult to blog recently.  I didn’t want to jump straight back into my usual humour after the last few posts about the refugee crisis.  It seemed rather insensitive.  So I gave it a little rest and for those of you who ‘like’ my FB page I have just been putting up some political and humorous links about Türkiye.

So I will ease into it and just spit out a few little tit bits to get us started.  Is it ‘tit bits’ or ‘tid bits’?  ‘Tit bits’ sounds wrong.

First up, it is Bayram right now.  For those of you who don’t know what Bayram is here is some lay person information.  Think of it as Bayram for Dummies.  When I was pregnant I brought Pregnancy for Dummies and it was extremely helpful.  Thankfully so far this year it has been a quiet one.  Do you remember when you were kids and you would have one Christmas at home and then the next at some other relo’s house?  This is what appears to have happened so far this year.  Everyone in the family has disappeared – except my father in law.  Never my father in law.  We still have to make the obligatory trips to extended family members and, of course, there are the constant trips to the fecking cemetery, but I think I am going to get through this Bayram stress free!  Finger’s crossed though as I don’t want to jinx myself.  Iyi Bayramlar!

baby goat

Next up on my list is this – I don’t think it is every going to rain in Mersin again.  EVER!  There is the potential for a good rain.  There are dark clouds, really ominous clouds.  There is even excitement but, sadly, no follow through.  The sun comes out again and the never ending heat continues to taunt us.  LIKE A BITCH!  And it’s been raining fecking everywhere in Turkey right now.  Bodrum has had flooding.  Marmaris has storms.  Even Adana has had some crazy downpours.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am still a summer girl.  I hate the cold and generally I hate the rain as well but after a rain free zone of some 120+ days I really need a downpour to take the edge off.  I need a fix.  Yes, yes I know we had a storm after that recent earthquake but that was more of an addendum to the earthquake and, anyway, that was more wind than anything else so it doesn’t count.

So I am still waiting.  And it is still motza hot here.  And I am kinda over it.  And of course I will complain about the cold soon enough but right now – I just want a little rain!

On the bright side school goes back on Monday after 8,765 days off (well it seems like it anyway).  That is 8,765 days of Daughter loving Calum Hood (from 5SOS), dreaming about Calum Hood, talking about Calum Hood and hating absolutely everyone and absolutely everything else.  That means you!  And me!  And definitely The Turk!  When I was 13 I was going to marry George Michael.  I didn’t.  But I am holding out that Daughter gets her dream wedding to her dream man.  I mean they both love Hawaiian Pizza so it looks like they could be a perfect match!  So if any of you happen to know Mr Calum Hood let me know would you.

calum 2

Finally I am still holding onto my dream of becoming the next J.K. Rowling (or more correctly a Turkish-inspired Jackie Collins – ooh la la!) and have been plugging away on completing my first novel.  I start.  I stop.  I delete.  I start again.  But I am pushing myself this time thanks to a little bit of encouragement from a friend here in Mersin.  So if I disappear I will be back.  I should probably keep going while I have the enthusiasm.

Oh and speaking of my blog I was recently contacted by a mainstream news channel to give an opinion on the freedom of press in Türkiye.  Thank you very much but I as I said to them I am merely a little blogger and not nearly as knowledgable as I could be or should be to give an opinion on pretty much anything.  Plus I kind of like being anonymous (I know I am not really anonymous) but I don’t want to get blocked (or worse) so I’ll just keep smiling and writing about kittens and unicorns! I was totally chuffed at being noticed by them though.  For those of you interested in seeing the report the link is here.

So that’s it for now.

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Shake, Rattle and Boom

You guys might recall that I have the unique ability to not feel any earthquakes here at all.  Little or large, up until this point I have felt nada.  But last night … well last night was a doozy and at the time I was pretty sure it was right underfoot.

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Let me paint you a picture.

It was a hot and humid night.  Too hot to sleep.  I thought about putting on the klima but I hate that background droning in my ear so instead I tossed and turned in bed, so much so that The Turk went and slept on the terrace to capture the sea breezes (and no doubt to get away from me).  Midnight came and went.  1am crept past me and I was still listless, The Sandman had not visited and I was knackered.

Moments after the clocked ticked over to 1am an eerie silence immersed The Village.  The neighbourhood dogs, who are usually so vocal, stopped barking and even My Hurley Dog who was sleeping on my floor sat up and started whimpering.  Then it hit.  The wardrobe started banging.  My Hurley Dog looked at the wardrobe and I looked at him.  Outside I could hear the sound of objects falling.  I sat up and the bed started vibrating like one from a cheap Vegas hotel.  I laughed … I mean my bed hasn’t seen that much action since before The Turk’s heart attack … until I realised what it was.  “Shit.  Earthquake”.

I called for The Turk but he was having his own 30 second dance party on the terrace so I grabbed My Hurley Dog (who either wouldn’t or couldn’t move) and I ran clumsily down the corridor to the terrace. By the time I made it out there The Turk had lit a cigarette and mumbled, “Deprem”.  Uh huh.   We watched as the neighbours all came running outside and started babbling to each other.  Dead set you would think that John Cusack just drove past in a limo with the door ripped off.  People here go bat shit crazy!

Seriously though it was a 5.2 and it was in the sea between here and Adana.  It was felt down in Limonlu which is about 70 kilometres from here as well as in the mountains in Yenikoy.  As it was so close to Adana they really copped it with one friend saying her 14 storey building was swaying (and she’s on the top floor – yikes).  No damage at ours although the madanoz and nane boxes ready for delivery to restaurants tomorrow all fell over next door which caused a good 10 minutes of yelling and gesticulation before they were upright again.

I went and made a cup of tea and The Turk and I sat on the balcony for a few minutes watching the show when a slight breeze picked up.  I thought that perhaps it might cool down a bit but no, if anything, it was hotter.  I looked at our temperature gauge – 30.2 degrees and its 1.49am.  Lord!  And then it hit.

No not another quake but the electrical storm to end all electrical storms.  Mother Nature was throwing everything she had at us and within seconds our electric was cut and the entire village was thrown into darkness.  Blacker than black.  The rain started and The Turk started cursing (he had washed the car earlier in the day).  Again we watched another fox in the henhouse moment while all the neighbours went running back inside.  What’s worse to a Turkish person?  An earthquake or a little rain on your head?  Definitely the rain, after all you might get grip!  People probably went inside and put on a sweater or three!

Right now I could be controversial and suggest that building a nuclear power plant in Mersin (or in Türkiye for that matter) is a ridiculous idea what with all the earthquakes and shit but because I am trying to stay away from controversy so I don’t get blocked I am going to say this – unicorn and kittens!

But I must admit Mother Nature put on a hell of a show.  Both a matinee and a curtain.  Well done Madame for an eventful evening but I really need to get some sleep now.

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BLOCKED!

Yep it seems that my humor definitely does not translate into Turkish because as of last night JaneyinMersin.com has been blocked in Turkey.  I am up there with Twitter, Blogloving and FunnyorDie.  Frankly I think this is the highest accolade I have ever received being blocked by a Government!

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Hopefully in the coming days sense will prevail and the powers that be realise that I am but a stupid Aussie who runs off at the mouth on occasion.  They will see that I am merely an over opinionated, middle aged woman who could hardly be a threat to national security.  I mean really!

Look don’t get me wrong perhaps it is not the Government that has blocked me, perhaps it is merely a glitch in the system and I will come back online completely on my own and if that is the case then … oops sorry to the powers that be.

So for those of you “outside” I will continue to blog in my sporadic way but for those of you within Türkiye, well you can’t read this anyway so doesn’t really matter what I wanted to say does it?   LMAO!

Oh and just to really be difficult go ahead and share my blog to your friends so my voice gets carried just that little further today.

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Headlines and News Bulletins

They can make a strong impression on us as tourists but where is the line between scaremongering and truth?

I try to keep away from the political side of things with my little blog because I am really not knowledgeable enough on any subject to give anything but a nonsense reply however I have received so many emails from you guys asking for advice about travelling to Türkiye, and in particular, to Mersin.

Turkiye

While it is not for me to give you advice what I will say to those who are thinking of cancelling their holidays to Antalya or Bodrum is this – the distances between these areas and the Syrian border is massive – like the distance between London to Germany.  That’s a couple of countries and even a little water in distance isn’t it?  Over 1000 kilometres or 20+ hours of driving in Türkiye.    To those of you visiting Mersin and its surrounds we are still 150 kilometres from the border with Syria however most of the issues with terrorists are happening in the far east, some 500+ kilometres from here.  If you are, however, travelling to Eastern Türkiye I would suggest that you check with your country’s Consulate before making any travel plans but remember people a terrorist attack can happen anywhere at any time.  America, the UK, Tunisia, India and even Australia.  Nowhere is really safe anymore in the world.  I guess the question you ask yourself is this –  “are you going to let them control your decision, your lives?”  Noone can decide that but you.

What is going on exactly?

The past few days has seen Türkiye launch strikes on several different fronts and you need to note the distinction between the different strikes that have been made.

Firstly Türkiye has launched attacks against ISIS targets inside Syria in retaliation to a bombing last week in the city of Suruc which killed 32 people and also the shooting of security officers at the border.  Simultaneously they launched attacks against the PKK (which has been designated a terrorist organisation by Türkiye) in Iraq.  These attacks were in retaliation to the deaths of two Turkish polis officers on Wednesday.   The Government also feels that the PKK is exploiting ISIS efforts.

Where do we go from here?

Türkiye has agreed to allow the US access to their air bases to co-ordinate strikes inside Syria and Iraq and has requested talks with NATO over the security of the area.  Well I am sure this will open up a can of whoop ass on someone.

Over the past few days Türkiye has also arrested over 850 terror suspects.  This is great news although I have to wonder why, if these terror suspects were already known to Türkiye, why where they not arrested earlier?  Am I wrong?  Did these 850 terror suspects suddenly appear out of nowhere?  Hardly.

The current operations underway is obviously an effort to destabilize the country which is at this time without a proper parliament.  Will the efforts succeed or will it bite the instigator on the ass?  Time will tell.

*Sigh*

Ultimately as a tourist visiting Türkiye, your personal safety is your utmost concern.  Keep a close eye on news reports.  Register your travel plans with your Consulate and remember you are the only one that can make an informed decision as to whether or not you should travel.

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Be safe guys.  Türkiye is a beautiful country and I am sure you will have a wonderful holiday when you visit.

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*Knock, knock* Hello?

You might not have noticed but I haven’t posted for a while.  Why have I been so neglectful?  Why, oh why, have I left you, my dear followers and friends, hanging for the next episode of action packed drama that is living in Mersin?  Well to be honest I haven’t been particularly happy recently.

The Turk and I have been fighting – a lot – and not just a little scrap here and there, no, we have been having a few smack down whoopings that a stoned Hulk Hogan atop a wrecking ball could be proud of.

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Yes.  Seriously.  This is the current synopsis of our relationship.  I am not sure if I am Hulk Hogan or perhaps the wrecking ball and I never thought I would see the day that I had to quote Miley Cyrus but over the past weeks and months all The Turk has really achieved is to “wreck me”.

I am not really sure where it all began but since The Turk returned from Australia (after his heart attack) he has had difficulty settling back into the village way of life.  He has found fault in everything and everyone (including me) and has made me feel that our relationship is irretrievably broken.  To add insult to injury, and despite the fact that the first heart attack should have scared him straight, he has not changed his diet or his habits and in early June was admitted into hospital to have a triple by-pass.  Officially he now resembles Frankenstein’s Monster.

Adding to these current woes and health issues is me being diagnosed with “abnormal cervical cells” which has required treatment.  My doctor speaks pretty good English, although when he laughs he sounds a little like a hyena on crack, but I am relatively confident with the treatment that I have had and I go back next week for another check.  Fingers crossed that the treatment destroyed all the cells and nice, happy, non-cancerous cells have grown in their place.

There have been a few moments over these months that I have sat on the couch in tears and a few moments where I have wanted to pack my bags and flee back to Australia but I cannot because Daughter is so happy here (although I need to update you guys on her most recent boy drama when I get a chance).  Being that I am officially (yes it is officially) the Best Mum In The World I also took her to Londra in June for her birthday to a “5SOS” concert.  For those of you who have no clue what a “5SOS” is you should Google them because apparently Daughter is going to marry either the Lead Singer (who I suspect could be a world class tool) or the Bass Player (who reminds me of a dopey puppy).  The concert itself wasn’t too shabby, they reminded me of a very young INXS, although a little more polished than the INXS that played at Manly Vale Hotel back in the 1980’s.  I also got some shopping done in Londra so it was a pretty successful trip for both of us.

5sos

We also chuffed off to Rome for a week which was lovely (although the restoration work on the Trevi Fountain is STILL NOT finished!  How fecking long does it take?) and finally for a break in Istanbul.

As you can see there should be quite a bit to blog about but my sadness and health concerns have unfortunately overtaken my mental functions and writing proved very difficult over the past weeks.  I will be back to writing a little more often and hopefully I will return to a more comedic writing style which is how I would normally feel.  I am also going to re-jiggy the blog a little bit as I have had a lot of requests for more touristic information on Mersin (as there is limited information out there) and its surrounds so if I go off-line in the near future don’t distress it is merely my ridiculous attempts of navigating the web page tools (which will no doubt prove to be a little difficult for my pea-sized intellect).

And in case you are wondering yes The Turk is still smoking!

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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.

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CSI Cyber – Turkish Edition

I have now watched a couple of episodes of this new CSI show and I think I am more than qualified to investigate “the Great Turkish Blackout of 2015”.

After lengthy investigation I have 3 main suspects:

  1. A terrorist plot. Who could it be?  Bilmiyorum.
  2. A pimply faced 12 year old boy trying to obtain the schematics of NASA’s space station for his bedroom wall … oh wait wrong program.
  3. Türkiye forgot to pay the electric bill – most likely.

collage 1

Here’s what I know.

I went into the city yesterday to meet some friends for lunch.  There was no electricity in the village.  I shrug my shoulders (there is never any electricity in the village).  As I reached Çarşı there is no electricity there either.  Oh well.  I catch my next dolmuş and continue through Mersin.  Pozcu – no electricity.   At this point I am like “Woah all of Mersin!  Sucked in!”.  As I reached Mezitli and my destination and there was still no electricity I realised “damn lunch is going to be cancelled” but no – bless Mersin Marina for their own electricity supply!

Lunch was lovely.  I drank too much and got too much sun.  I suffer for that now.

One friend from Adana told me her electricity was out too.  “How funny is that?  Two cities, no electricity”.

I finally got home completely sloshed and feeling no pain but there was still no bloody electricity.  The Turk informed me that the electricity was, in fact, out all over Turkey including Istanbul and Ankara and that it was a terrorist plot or a military coup.  My first thought was “Yikes”.  My second thought “that movie War Games”.  Do you know the one?  Matthew Broderick starred in it, like, 50 years ago or something, and he nearly started WWIII with the click of a mouse button.  Someone should check the whereabouts of Matthew Broderick.

Officially Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said all possible causes were under investigation “including terrorism”.  Conveniently enough President Erdogan was out of the country as was the Electricity Minister.

It has suggested to me that it was an April Fools joke.  That’s seems to be a pretty elaborate joke, well done to you, however check your calendar before you pull a prank you goose!

We finally got our electric back but not before The Turk suggested we make our own – bada bing bada boom.  Daughter said that the electrical outage was “a current event”.  You see we are all fecking comedians in this household!

My CSI investigation is still underway so keep checking back for when I finally arrest my suspect.  It will be exciting.  Seriously though, if Turkiye did forget to pay the electric bill someone should diarise this shit because it was bloody inconvenient yesterday.

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