Turkish Iskender Delight

7 May

I promised all of my meat loving friends that I would explore how the Turks make meat divine.  It took me nearly the entire trip here to give it my attention, and well I am glad that I did.  This morning I had the final conference sessions, and as soon as they got out off I went wandering the streets of Antalya.  I wove through all of the downtown neihborhoods and found that they come to life on the weekend.  The parks were filled with Turks of all ages doing everything you can think of -skateboarding, playing backgammon, napping on the grass, biking, playing music, drinking tea from little tulip shaped glasses, and cooking kebab on small charcoal grills.

The streets were equally alive.  Saturday is shopping day for most and Antalya has a myriad of large bazaars selling cloths, spices, textiles, jewelry, shoemakers – you name it, they have a shop for it.  Some shops are nothing more than a table with a bunch of trinkets sprawled out.  Others are groupings of little one room shops and traditional restaurants are intermingled in this sea of micro-commerce.  Many of the shops are run by families, which to me is very neat.  I also found a small narrow street that consisted of 10 or so little enclosed booths.  They served as the workshops and storefronts for Antalya’s shoemakers.  I’ve never seen so many shoemakers, all producing shoes on customer order only.  You visit one of the shoemakers and tell him what kind of shoes you want, and he goes to work making your shoes.  Carefully cutting the leather, stitching the sole to the show, sewing on appliques.  I like the idea of bringing back these types of micro-enterprises and trades.

Now onto today’s foodie experience.  After a few of hours weaving around the sunny streets of Antalya I found an area where there were several traditional kebab restaurants.  The doner kabab meat rotates on a large vertical cooking device, it continually cooks over low heat  that brings to life the aromatics of the spices laced within the meat & natural juices.  This seemed like the perfect opportunity to give Turkish meat a try – and I am glad I did.  All of the restaurants in this area were filled only with local Turks, so I put my bet that this would be one of the best places.  I took a seat at a table outside, dining al fresco is the best way to go in Antalya.  The waiter kindly gave me the menu, all in Turkish yet again! But this time the Turkish names & descriptions were accompanied by photographs of each dish.  This was most helpful.  I gave my broken Turkish a whirl and placed my order with the waiter.   Here you have to order using portion sizes in grams.  Given how large servings here are, I went for the small portion (100 grams).  And out it came 20 minutes later – a heaping plate of what I call Turkish Iskender Delight.   Thin slices of the doner kebab meat cooked in an aromatic sauce of tomatoes, onions, and spices.  Served up on a bed of cubed pita bread, all the saucy doner kebab meat drenched the pita cubes with its delicious juice.  It was served with four thick slices of sweet tomatoes, a big spoonful of natural plain yogurt, and one fresh hot pepper.  The meat was so flavorful and juicy.  The yogurt gave the dish a cooling sensation to balance the crisp hot pepper pieces I ate with each bite of donor kebab meat.  I was also divine – like most all food in Turkey so far.  After I finished my meal, I went inside and spoke with the chef for a few minutes.  He was busy chopping up fresh herbs and cucumber.  I do believe this meal of Turkish Iskender Delight was cooked with love!

Color photo of a plate of Turkish Iskender Delight

My only “complaint” – even the small portion was too big for one person.  An hour after this wonderous foodie experience I went for a 5k run along the Mediterranean Sea!  Now back to eating fresh & clean.

2 Responses to “Turkish Iskender Delight”

  1. Mummy May 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    sounds yummy. If you get the chance, try the lamb 🙂

  2. Sarah May 18, 2011 at 3:14 pm #

    Greetings from Boston!!!
    It looks like you have had a wonderful and enriching trip! Your photos are great, I especially like the one with the turtle; great angle :). But really I just wanted to say I am impressed and intrigued about your travels and what has been going on in your life!! It is so nice to hear you are out soaking it all up and taking advantage of what seems to be a wonderful opportunity and experience. At any rate, I am glad you are still happy, healthy, and experiencing life to its fullest!!! Say hi to Kalor for me!

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