Look closely at these pictures. This park has remained in…
I was traveling to Cappadocia originally just for a mini vacation, found out about a new music, art, and gastronomic event in Cappadocia, called Cappadox, and decided I would check that out as well. Things didn’t exactly go as planned. First of all, my smallest child got a light fever, right as we were leaving, so I just packed some different medicines, and away we went. Trying to experience cultural events with kids can be difficult. Its hard to be in the moment when a little person is vying for all your attention, as children do. My hopes to catch the whole awesome Cappadox experience was blunted a bit. Yes, sometimes I miss the freedom of being twenty-two, but doesn’t everyone. I would have liked to try Chef Maksut Askar’s food, but then, I thought, I really want to relax and taste everything, not run after my children, so I skipped it. I can always eat at his restaurant Neolokal, in Istanbul. I was able to break away for a little bit, and check out the sights of Cappadocia, but the art exhibit happened to be closed. Hey, at least I attempted something cool and interesting. Fortunately, out there in Goreme, it was tranquil, even with a festival going on, I actually heard songbirds singing in the morning, and that was good enough for me. Birdsongs are rather uncommon in Istanbul unless you count crows and seagulls. I could also hear the music from Cappadox clearly from my balcony for free, and the food at Taskonaklar’s very own restaurant was superb.
The countryside outside Konya, in central Anatolia was gorgeous. The lush green fields of wheat lay sprawling on every gently rolling hillside, speckled with pockets of bright red Turkish poppies. The cumulus clouds throwing giant shadows across the landscape. Passing through a village outside of Ankara, a herd of Angora goats blocked the road for about five minutes. Ankara is well known for its cultivation of Angora goats, and in fact, “following its annexation by the Seljuk Turks in 1073, the city became known in many European languages as Angora, a usage which continued until its official international renaming to Ankara under the Turkish Postal Service Law of 28 March 1930.”
After driving through mile after mile of nothingness we saw a sign that appealingly advertised a ‘gourmet’ restaurant called Ayten Usta, fifty miles away, in Eskisehir. This was the best looking sign I had seen so far, so upon reaching the general vicinity of the restaurant, I kept scanning, and then, there it was, just as we passed it, so we found a way to get onto a side street, but oddly enough, there was no way to get into the restaurant, unless you were to drive your car across a pedestrian bridge. I said “Well, we can just park, and then walk across the bridge, and the field, to get there.” My husband said, “Thats ridiculous, they have their own parking lot”. So, we got back on the highway, and this time, I was more than ready to spot it, but guess what, there was no exit to get off the highway, and into the restaurant. You have to love the senselessness here. So we had had enough. As we were leaving the city, we saw another sign for Ayten Usta, but this one was attached to a gas station, and the logo was different, but we we were all hungry, and desperate, so we pulled over, and went in. Apparently, it was owned by the same people, so they have a few different locations in the area, with wildly divergent logos. The homestyle food happened to be quite delicious, and excellently prepared, despite the slight scent of window cleaning fluid hanging in the air, which we tried to ignore.
Finally we arrived in the village of my mother-in-law, after about six hours of driving from Cappadocia, sticky and exhausted. Mostly, it was from the mental strain of keeping two little boys from killing each other, in the back of a tiny Mini Cooper. Barely able to pull myself from the car and into the house, I slumped onto the nearest couch, feeling a fugue state coming on. However, I could not rest. At once, out came a large tea tray, piled high with accouterments to make the Turkish staple, yaprak dolmasi. There was a pot of par cooked rice, dried currants, mint, and a little allspice. Of course there were fresh grape leaves par-cooked for about a minute, and plates for the post-rolled dolma. Now, I don’t exactly have to do anything, I am among adults here; it would be completely acceptable to just go upstairs and take a nap. That being said, the matriarch of the family, a fetching, seventy-three-year-old, with searing blue eyes commences work, stuffing, tucking, and rolling up the leaves, making perfectly shaped, tight little dolmasi. I know that prior to our arrival her fun activities included, but was not limited to: cooking, baking, foraging for walnuts, and cracking and roasting those walnuts by hand. She is a soldier, and doesn’t accept slouches on her team, and I desire to remain on her team. I jump in and get to work right away, rolling as well. Truth be told, I don’t mind a bit. I enjoy this relaxing Turkish pastime, and its very satisfying to see your pile of dolma grow. I’m in competition with her of course. Some day I’m going to make them faster and neater, someday.
-Tore Kjeilen (3 September 2004). “Ankara”. I-cias.com. Retrieved 5 May 2009.