Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cihangir, Mussels, and More Mussels.

Six years ago , when we lived in the Cihangir neighborhood for a month while visiting Istanbul, we used to eat at the corner kebab shop next to the Cihangir mosque. Since then Cihangir has become one of the most high-rent yuppie districts in Beyoğlu. I was a bit afraid our kebab house would have fallen victim to gentrification, but no. Still one of the best, still dirt cheap. 5 YTL ($3.00) kofte:

Lahmajun, 1.75 YTL. Cheeseless lamb pizza with a thin crust.

Lahmacun are served fresh from the oven, with lettuce, onions, and lemon. You spread the salad in the middle and roll them up. Fumie gets her vitamins, however, from hamşi, fried fresh Black sea anchovies (YTL 3 a portion.

We have about another week to remain in Istanbul, so we have been scarfing stuffed mussels daily.. five juicy midye dolma for 2 YTL. These are mussels, split and stuffed with a seafood rice pilav, sprinkled with lemon. They are a very Istanbul-centric food - if you Turkish but are not from Istanbul, you simply do not eat mussels. If you are from here, you eat them a lot - in public on the street or in mussel salons - as a statement of your big city identity. Istanbullis like to eat them in front of people from Ankara just to watch their horrified reactions.
And why stop at the rice stuffed mussels when you can have a portion of fried mussels with garlic sauce for a buck.

Or fried mussels with garlic sauce stuffed into a sandwich. This isn't a mayonaise based sauce - it is the Greek style bread crumbs soaked in water and milk with garlic. Light on the garlic, no oily grease.

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