Last night I was tired. I have been feeling a little limp and drained. I think the heat is taking it’s toll. I try to keep hydrated but still I feel headachy and tired and washed out. So I had fallen asleep and woke up around 8:00, took a quick shower and decided to go for a walk. I wanted to buy dog treats for poor Chloe but can’t find a pet store and the only dog supplies the local markets have is Turkish dog food which she does not like.
So I walked, and tried a few markets, and had no luck. I wandered some more but quickly tired of the crowded, tourist-packed main street. Finally I started to wind my way home and still feeling strange thought maybe I should have something to eat. I was really hoping for some of the red beans the Turks are so found of with maybe some rice, but as I stood outside a small restaurant trying to see if they were still open, the man beckoned me inside and I went. This restaurant is a very bare bones kind of place very near my apartment and I’ve been curious about how it is so I decided now was as good a time as any to check it out.
The menu has some English on it next to pictures of the food and I try to ask the young waiter what the “vegetarian food” is. The proprietor comes over to try to help but we can’t figure it out so I ask what is “guzel” which means “beautiful, pretty, nice”, a good all-purpose word for complimenting anything, and order what he points at.
I’m the only one sitting inside, under the bright, bright lights. There are only three tables inside and two on the street, both of which are occupied. I’m still tired, so I just sit, looking around. There’s not a lot of “stuff” in this place. Just a refrigerated case with a few uncooked kebabs on skewers and a marble topped counter at right angles to it.
The proprietor is behind the counter, his side to me, and I see that he has a small piece of dough he is kneading and slapping around. It’s about the size of a paperback book, less than half an inch thick. I think it might have something to do with my dinner, but I’m not sure. I look back again a minute or two later and the dough is gone, but he puts a huge paddle into the big brick oven then slides it out and looks at something, then puts a large sheet of paper on the paddle and pushes it into the oven. He’s adjusting the temperature. Then he takes two large branches and pushes them in too.
A few minutes later he pushes the paddle in again and brings out bread—one of those big puffy breads they serve here. It is about 18 inches by 9 inches and is puffed up about three inches high, the center hollow. There are sesame seeds on top. This is what he was making earlier and when they bring it to my table it is piping hot and really, really good. The color is very light but it’s crispy and I eat half of it before my dinner arrives.
I think my dinner came out of the same over. It is on a small iron platter and is still bubbling when it arrives. Tomatoes, peppers, bits of meat, with some French-fry like potatoes on top. It’s OK, but I think I would come back just for that bread.