Monday, 17 September 2018

Going on a 'Living'

At the end of the season, hardworking charter yacht crew used to go on a "Living".  They'd done the 'Working and Earning Money' - several months with barely an hour to themselves - so as a reward, they'd load up their boats with rakı and head off up the Gulf of Gökova to catch fish and party for a week. 
I had a bit of a "Living" on Saturday to reward myself for a busy summer spent in planes, taxis and ferries. It was only a day on a small wooden yacht popping into the bays around Kisebükü but I can confirm that being in the company of good friends, eating fish straight from the barbecue, standing chest high in crystal clear turquoise water while contemplating whether the geology of the rocky bay is art, and a drink or two with a spontaneous game of Charades, is definitely 'Living' and we don't do enough of it.  

Thursday, 13 September 2018

How times change

The culinary highlight of a trip to the UK used to be an Indian meal and a pint of Guinness (but not necessarily together).  Not any more. Draught Guinness is now readily and relatively cheaply available on the harbour front in Bodrum so after a day that started at 4am to get to my return flight at Gatwick airport, I can relax with my favourite pint in my favourite town.  I'm sure someone will let me know if a good curry is to be found on the peninsula. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Time to sit and stare

Not everyone is rushing around the Bodrum peninsula in a car or minibus - it just feels that way in July and August (and June and September). Some have time to sit and watch the idiots dash by and contemplate the madness around them.  I'm looking forward to very soon joining the ranks of those that have time to sit and stare. I will be looking outwards, not down at a smart phone, but maybe through the lense of a camera. I am very aware that BacktoBodrum Bog has been a bit 'meh' recently and the only excuse I have is that I've been working away and have missed concerts, shows, races and other events which would have made good copy.  "Can do better" has been stamped on the 2018 report card and as September marks the start of new term, I shall endeavour to get this upgraded to "Much improved" this Autumn.
Thanks to all of you who have stuck with it and keep reading.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

A local foreigner

I had a conversation with a young woman yesterday which reminded me why I like living in Bodrum. I shall translate it as best I can into English.  We had been chatting for a bit when she said,
"Are you normally a foreigner?"
The word "normally" threw me and I dithered over the answer, so she helped me out,
"I mean, when you are not speaking Turkish, are you a foreigner?"
So I told her that I had been born in England but moved to Turkey many years ago.
"How many years?" She wanted to know.
A second of mental arithmetic and I came up with the number 36.
"Wow " she said "I am 22 so that's 14 years longer than me, so you are normally a Türk and only  sometimes a foreigner."

I thank her for her confidence but I will always be a foreigner and it is a very pleasant place to be.  The Turkish word 'yabancı' defines someone from outside. It could be outside your village, your town or your country. I have been very fortunate as 'an outsider ' in Bodrum and have always been treated very kindly. In the early days it was embarrassing to be a yabancı as we were always ushered to the front of queues or found a chair to sit on while others were standing. Refusing to comply caused more fuss so we gave in and accepted.  The influx of foreign tourists in the late 1980s put pay to that thank goodness. I've heard myself described as a 'Yerli Yabancı' - a 'local outsider' or 'Bizim Yabancı' 'our foreigner', so if I'm ever faced with the question again I will reply that I'm a 'local foreigner' and happy to be so.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

In praise of Gözleme

Gülsüm on her home ground. Try her gözleme at Bodrum's Friday market.

Looks like a pancake but contains no eggs or milk, the ubiquitous Gözleme is a one of the best snacks to eat while traveling around Turkey.  

This cheese and potato titbit set me back nine and a half lira with the lemonade and I took half home to eat later. I can't think of many places where less than two dollars or just over a pound will get you this much tasty food.

The whole family was involved at the Karaova Festival to keep up with the demand

To make Gözleme you need a large flat surface to roll out the simple flatbread mixture of flour, salt and water and a long thin rolling pin to achieve a paper thin circle of dough. 

This is then spread usually with herbs and cheese or potato and cheese and flipped over on itself as it is cooked on a metal skillet made specially for the job. A wash of butter or oil allows the dough to brown.  You know it's cooked when it stats to gözleme - brown eyes appear on the cooked surface. 

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Are you coming?

Anyone walking around Bodrum yesterday evening will be aware of the festivities happening in Mumcular today and tomorrow. 

I hope you are on your way

I am 

Friday, 31 August 2018

Festival Time

It's Grape Harvest Festival time again in Karaova. This will be the fourth year and it looks set to be a good one.  Festivities start this evening with a procession in Bodrum and continue with two days of food, craft, agriculture, carpets, wine, cheese, honey and everything else related to this fertile plain.  I was upset to miss this again for the second year running as my return from Hydra is booked for 5th September but by a strange quirk or two of fate, a serious dog bite in Italy and a 48 hour plus power cut in Hydra, I am home early. Too late to get involved in any of the organisation but in plenty of time to enjoy all the local talent on display.

Read all about the first Karaova Grape Harvest Festival

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Mooning about

Mooning around/about -English informal to spend your time lazily, moving around with no real purpose; "I wish you'd stop mooning about and do something useful!"

Not strictly true, I'm on Hydra earning a living but when I am not actively working I'm stuck for something to do. I've read a couple of books, painted a few pictures but nothing really hits the spot.  I really want to go BacktoBodrum to get on with all the renovation plans I have whizzing around in my head.  The building season doesn't officially start until the middle of October but I want to bag Ugur the builder  before he gets started on a bigger more lucrative project than mine. The decline in the value of the Turkish Lira has hit my savings hard and I want to spend the money in the bank before it becomes small change.  As someone who for the past 2 years has been telling everyone else how overvalued the TL was, I really should have listened to myself and converted it to Euros or Dollars but like a lot of folk here, I got used to living off the interest which is paid into the current account monthly and just let things ride. But hey it's only money!

The photo of the nearly full harvest moon rising over Hydra was taken a couple of nights ago. I went out with my camera to catch the sunset but was let down by a bank of cloud that spread itself over the Peloponnese just as the sun began to sink. I packed up my camera and turned around to walk home just as the moon peeped over the hill.  By the time camera was unpacked and turned on the yellow orb had risen well above the hillside. Sometimes the serendipitous shot is the best.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Baking when it's baking

It seems daft to turn the oven on when it's baking outside but I like the idea of preparing a meal in the oven without having to faff about with the stove top. Slinging a few ingredients into a dish and letting the oven do the rest of the work is a much better idea than stirring a pot on a hot day. 
These two dishes take just under an hour at 180 degrees and improve in flavour if you let them cool for half an hour before serving 

For the courgettes, choose the smallest you can find with the flower intact if possible, but they taste just as good without. Place in an oven proof dish with two or three cloves of garlic and then open a jar or a tin of achovies in olive oil. Pour the contents through a tea strainer over the courgettes, pushing the anchovies through with a teaspoon. This gets rid of all those annoying small bones and turns the small fish to a purée. Squeeze over a whole lemon's juice and put into the oven at 180 degrees C . Cover with foil for the first 30 mins. Small courgettes will be ready in 45 mins, larger will take longer. 

Baked aubergine slices are healthier than the traditional fried ones and taste just as good. 
Slice as many aubergines as you want into a bowl and add a couple of tablespoons full of olive oil and a tsp of salt and pepper.  Rub the oil into the slices with your hands until they all coated all over. Spread in a single layer over a baking tray and bake in a 180 C oven for 15 minutes.  Remove, flip all the slices and put back for another 15 mins but check after 10 - they should be evenly soft, lightly coloured but not going  black.  With aubergines, overcooked is better than under. At the same time as the aubergines are cooking, have a tray of peeled chopped beef tomatoes, drizzled with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and 3 crushed garlic cloves in the oven.  When the aubergine slices are cooked, the tomatoes can be mashed with a fork to provide an accompanying sauce.  Top with a few basil or parsley leaves and you have two tasty dishes with minimum effort.