Sunday, November 04, 2007

Turkey Vignette #4: I Like Me Sweets

Scene: Before coming to Turkey, I thought Baklava was an oozing pillow of goodness only from Greece. I had no idea that you could find it in Turkey too. So of course, I had to find a bakery in Istanbul.

Before I go further, let me explain how I feel about my past history with Baklava and desserts in general. Unless you really dislike honey or nuts, there's really not much objectionable in the flavor profile of Baklava. I have to admit, that I never liked Baklava too much before because I always thought it was way too sweet. But as I've gotten older, I've noticed that I've developed a bit of a sweet tooth. Well, I still put enough salt in my food to make a mockery of the words, "high blood pressure." However I also realized lately that I want no part of a home absent of desserts. Desserts are your nightly reward for having survived another day. It's part of life.

I also think the moment you gain the ability to make your own dessert or even more demonstrative, buy your own dessert is nothing short of life-altering. Growing up, most kids, including me, ate whatever your Mom fed you. You could either have that, or a bowl of cereal, or go fuck yourself. When you finally leave the house, you soon learn that you can have cookies and cake whenever you want. And I think second to the first time you buy your own alcohol, buying your own cake must rank as any person's most prideful adult moments. When I realized this, I think it was the closest I've ever had to what religious people call an epiphany. Nothing says independence like buying a cake WHEN YOU WANT ONE (my A&E biography would be riveting, I know.)

While I understand that I really can do this anytime I want to, I also understand that I can't exactly eat a cake everyday without turning into a cow, and also it's a special event to be taken seriously, and having one every weekend would render buying your own cake not so special anymore.

So of course in Istanbul, I had to get some Turkish desserts (but not Turkish Delight, which are these nasty soapish, jelly candies that taste like poison). I dragged my friends to this bakery on the Istekal Caddessi, the main drag of Istanbul, which I read about in my guide book. The place was packed like Pinkberry, but I eventually got someone's attention.

Me: "Can I get a small box?"

Clerk: "What would you like?"

Me: "Oh. Hmmm. I'll have two pieces of that. I'll take some of those over there. Oh and a couple of those. Yeah, three of those..."(I was pointing wildly at everything behind the glass, eventually getting a sample of every Turkish cake they offereded, including all 4 kinds of Baklava.)

Clerk: "Is that all?" (He weighs the box, and I see '2.27 KG' flash on the scale.) "Your total is 30 Turkish Lira."

Me: "Saoul" ("Thank you" in Turkish)

I walk back to my friends who kind of have their mouths agape.

My friend, S: "Geez, how much stuff did you get?"

Me: "Oh I don't know. I just got a sample of each. I thought I was supposed to fill up the whole box."

My friend, S, laughing: No! You just get however much or little you want. You don't have to fill up the whole box!

(I blush, thinking about how stupid I can be.)