Thursday, November 27, 2008

Teşekkür gününüz kutlu olsun!

I am, I think, a typical American (read: hypocrite) in that I like to eat meat--especially, mmm, pork--but I don't really want to know where it comes from. It comes from the supermarket, right? In nice, clean little packages of breasts and fillets, hold the sesos and the cabeza and the ciğer (unless, maybe, it's deep-fried), and especially the işkembe. Shudder. To be honest, even handling the packaged cuts of meat makes me a little squeamish.

But, it's Thanksgiving, and if the fact that none of the ex-pats left in town can cook isn't keeping us from celebrating with a turkey in Turkey, nothing will. (We'll be feasting on Saturday, however, since some people have, like, "real jobs" and stuff. No four-day weekend for them here.) So I found myself at the tavukçu ("chicken guy") today, picking up the bird I'd ordered last week. Since I'd made a big point of asking, "Can you completely clean it? Remove all the feathers? Remove all the stuff that's inside?"* and he'd responded, somewhat unconvincingly, "Of course, of course! All you have to do is cook it!" I was a bit taken aback to see the turkey hanging from a ceiling by a hook, with feet, feathers, and all. Its head, or whatever was left of it, in a nice nod toward delicate sensibilities, was covered with a little cone of cardboard.

The tavukçu then slapped my köy hindisi ("village turkey") down on his cutting board, picked up a big knife and proceeded to cut off the head and feet, stuck his hand inside the carcass to pull out the guts (insisting on returning the "delicious" liver and stomach once he'd severed them from the rest of the gunk), and held it over a propane burner to singe off any remaining feather bits. I tried to explain how, "In America, the turkey is already ready. No head, no feet..." He nodded, and smiled, and kept working away.

* I do love that one of the ways to say "remove" in Turkish is yok etmek, "to make non-existent."

More pictures of the tavukçu at work:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Akbil ve ekmek

Generally, it's pretty easy to find the things you need--or some approximation thereof--in Istanbul. When you want a new faucet, you go to the faucet district. Need some towels? Oh, hey, there's a whole row of stores selling the exact same ones. But, occasionally, you need to look in some unlikely places.

I recently filled up my Akbil (a kind of electronic bus pass) at a little sidewalk stand selling loaves of bread.

And when I need to send a fax, I walk up the street to a store where the walls are full, ceiling-to-floor, of cubicles holding various colors of yarn and boxes of pantyhose. The fax machine sits in one of the cubicles, surrounded by stockings.

Now if only we had that classic American quirky-combo--Chinese food & donuts.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Worst. Customer. Service. Ever

I was just making some calls for a friend to computer service centers here in Istanbul, most of which don't seem to have any English-speakers on staff. Which is all understandable and şey, since, you know, we live in Turkey. What was really irritating was the one whose recorded message said,

"For English, press eight."

And then when I pressed 8, said,

"Yanlış numarası." (Wrong number.)

And then, when I tried to wait for an operator, said

"Operatör meşgul." (Operator busy.)

And hung up.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's morning in America

Well, actually, it's not. It's the middle of the night in America. But it's morning in Istanbul, and as we watched the sun rise over the Golden Horn, we also watched Barack Hussein Obama, the next president of the United States, give his acceptance speech.

I'm exhausted and wired and still a bit in shock, and so grateful for all the Turks who have never given me a hard time for being an American--who in fact have responded with surprise and pleasure, even during this dark period for our country--and for the good company in which I watched this momentous occasion. Thank you, America, for not letting me down.