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A much-needed weekend in Ankara

Can you travel too much? Before I started the Olmsted experience, I would have responded with a definitive “No way!”  Now I’m not so sure.  Since arriving in Turkey I’ve been away from home (Ankara) more often than I’ve been in town.  I think was so excited by the travel trifecta of time, money, and friends to see that I went wherever I could as often as I could.

When somebody asked me where I liked to hang out in Ankara, my first thought was the airport.  I realized that instead of the desire to return that I feel about most places I visit, Ankara is a city that I truly enjoy leaving!  On Thanksgiving morning, however, when I woke up four hours after my plane took off, I realized that maybe I had gone overboard with all the travel.  After a string of international trips in August, I resolved to limit myself to one international trip a month, which I thought was still being very generous with myself.  But things came up, and I ended up doubling down on big trips each month.  So on Thanksgiving, mostly because I had some kind of flu, but also because I think the flu was probably aided by exhaustion, (I did get the flu shot), I cancelled my highly anticipated trip to Paris.   And then this weekend, when some friends missed their flight to Istanbul, I decided not to go as well.  I was almost relieved to spend a healthy weekend at home!

Since I’ve barely moved into my place, and haven’t had a normal weekend in Ankara, I decided this would be the weekend to do all those normal weekend things, and maybe get to know my city a little better.  So I organized, cleaned, worked out, read, and shopped.

Yesterday I had plans to go to an art exhibit and holiday bazaar, but I was a little late getting going, got lost, and then got stuck in hellacious traffic and missed everything.  In the process of driving all over the city trying to find the museum I did discover some new neighborhoods and pretty streets, so it wasn’t a total loss.  I also learned that driving through the city’s main drag on a Saturday afternoon is no quick feat.

Ayranci Market

Ayranci Market

Today I managed to find the farmer’s market, which is also an antiques (but really just used stuff) market once a month.  Since I’m still trying to get the place together, I didn’t buy any stuff, but enjoyed browsing the tables and furniture stands.  After a really hilarious transvestite lectured me on what produce to buy from what vendor I did manage to buy some groceries.

I also hit up the hardware store to buy a fake Christmas tree.  Unfortunately, although they had trees on display, they’re only to show lights and ornaments – you can’t actually buy a fake tree.  Apparently I could have if I had come in November, but they sold out, and nobody was sure if they were going to order more this year or not.  They absolutely would not sell me a display.  Although I left with a sad “living room pine” asking about all the possibilities was a great chance to practice my Turkish.

Finally I got home and decided to try and cook ayva, a Turkish fruit that I eventually learned is quince.  We bought some in Goreme when we thought we were going to miss breakfast.  It’s a good thing the innkeeper fed us early, because after biting into one fruit as if it was an apple I threw it out!  The first flavor that came to mind was crabapple, which we used to eat on dares as kids.  It’s not sweet, pretty sour, and really fibrous.  Since I still had two pieces left, I found a Turkish recipe for ayva tatlısı, or Quince Sweet/Quince Dessert.  Turkish food names are sometimes really lame.  Basically, you peel and core the quince, throw some spices and sugar in the hollow, put them in a pan with a little water, and cook them all day on very low heat.  I used a 100C oven, which I think is like 220F.  The transformation is really amazing – they go from nearly inedible yellow orbs to something like apple pie filling, but less sweet.  I ate mine with vanilla ice cream, but traditionally they’re served with kaymak, which is clotted cream from raw buffalo milk and frequently used as whipped cream in Turkey.

Hopefully I get similar results with the other unidentified vegetables that I bought today.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Patrick Redmon #

    Mmmm… Clotted cream from buffalo’s milk? You certainly know how to stimulate one’s appetite, Sarah! (ha ha) I guess the Survivor Man (Discovery channel dude) was right: you can eat anything if you cook it down long enough with some natural sugars. 🙂 Funny you mention the “sad living room pine,” because Olivia and I were yucking it up on Thursday night as we watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special. Sometimes the “Charlie Brown trees” are the ones you rememeber the most. Be safe, be careful and keep working on the big semester project!

    December 3, 2012

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