Tuesday, 25 July 2017

It's a Dog's Life


My personal chef and walker is questioning my sensitivity. She is telling all who will listen (which isn't many as we are still stuck in the middle of rural nowhere) that she had to wake me up when the 6.6 earthquake hit on Friday morning. She wants to know why I wasn't waking her up with minutes to spare and leading her out of the house, rather than her dragging me out by my collar.  She has shown me cctv footage of street dogs in Bodrum running anxiously around the harbour, quoted 4th century BCE accounts of Greek dogs howling before seismic activity and claims that a whole Japanese town of 90,000 inhabitants was evacuated before a 7.9 quake on the say-so of its animal residents. "Dogs' hearing is so sensitive that they can pick up the sound of the earth moving prior to the destructive convulsion" she says. All I can say is that she better start trimming the hair bunging up my lugholes then.  In my defence, I spend my whole day protecting her from danger.  I bark loudly and frequently at every squirrel, dove, sparrow, bee and hornet that invades my courtyard and all get for my trouble is "Shut up Jake" often accompanied by words too rude to print.  No wonder I was fast asleep in the early hours.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Shaken not stirred


I could say 'this morning I am picking up the pieces after last night's 6.3  (or 6.8 depending which report you read) earthquake'. It wouldn't be a lie - a large iron candle stick fell over and broke this plate, so I do have some pieces to collect (and re-stick -because my mother gave it to me and I use it a lot) but I would be egging the pudding. Any earthquake measuring over 6 is of course bad news; It is very scary, especially types that try to pull the walls of your house apart and approach with a roar.  It took a while for my heartbeat to return to normal and I stayed outside counting the aftershocks.  After a few minutes, thanks to Facebook, I could relax in the knowledge that friends and family were unharmed but two people did lose their lives on the island of Kos. The change in sea level damaged plenty of boats, cars and property and a few mosques have fallen or have damaged minarets. I'm sure many people have more bits and pieces to pick up and mend than I do.  I hear from a friend that one can almost get drunk from the fumes wafting from the swanky alcohol shop on Bodrum's harbour front (order wider shelves now). The roads are jammed with folk heading back to the cities. Now this does confuse me - you flee a town which has just survived a major earthquake mainly due to its policy of building two storey structures, for a city with skyscrapers - also built on a fault line. Each to his own.  BUT the gist of this ramble is - everything is pretty much ok, which is why waking up to this headline makes me angry:

Screen shot from Daily Mail 22/7

Like my broken plate, it is not untrue but I find it totally disproportionate.  I was on Marmara Island in 1999 when an earthquake killed tens of thousands - That was a 'Killer Earthquake".  And just to be correct - it hit the Aegean not the Mediterranean. But I understand that they are both difficult words to spell, so in the middle of the night 'Med' was probably the easiest option.

We are still rumbling by the way.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Cows on the Coast



This post is for Deborah Semel Demirtaş whose 'Artist on a Marginal Coast' blog I enjoy reading. She's recently wrote about cows by the sea and I promised to send her some pictures of cattle that graze the Swedish coast.  I'm always wary of cows and these ones stare intently at me every evening as I pass by, but so far I have only briefly interrupted their nibbling. Occasionally they rush wildly up the seashore so I know that one day I will have to avoid a charging cow and I had better start researching defence techniques.  All suggestions welcome.



Tuesday, 18 July 2017

There is no cow on the ice



I've had a few messages asking me if all is well as BacktoBodrum has been uncharacteristically off-air for two weeks. I can happily reply that 'Ingen ko på isen' - 'there is no cow on the ice' which will immediately reassure all my Swedish friends that there is nothing to worry about. I've been visiting Skåne, Sweden, enjoying how different life is there to my existence in Bodrum - not better or worse - just poles apart. 


Things that are different

Licorice
I've eaten more licorice in the past week than in the last two years (ie since my last visit). Sweet, or chocolate flavoured but even better - salty - I wonder whether a licorice shop would work in Bodrum?

Berries
Giant blueberries, gooseberries, endless raspberries and who could resist a fruit called 'cloudberry'. I discovered that a handful of fresh red currents mixed into lightly picked cucumber is the best accompaniment to baked herrings. 

Cinnamon buns
OK, I can make these at home but buying them warm from the Bakery for breakfast is almost as good as taking home a fresh crispy simit.  

Road Safety
Swedes step out on to pedestrian crossings without even looking, so confident are they that cars will stop. Please don't try this in Bodrum.  I'd prefer you didn't do it in front of me in my first few days - I'm already struggling with speed limits that go from 40 to 70 to 30 to 20 in a less than a kilometre and a car that brakes for me if I'm too near to the car in front or shouts at me if I stray too far to the right or left. .  

Bicycles everywhere
As above - car drivers acknowledge their presence; again - don't try this in Bodrum in Summer.
(One question - if Swedes are so health and safety conscious - explain the candles on the head on 13th December) 

Crispbread 
Big wheels of it offered with every meal, but very difficult to store - I would have to build a special Ryvita cupboard if I could buy it here. 

Place Names
I childishly delight in visiting Paarp on my way to Boarp and then on to Bastad.  (I know there are little circles on top of some vowels that change the sound, but can't be arsed to find them) 

Whipped cream with every dessert
Not so sure about the green cakes. 



Roses
Rosa Rogusa grows everywhere and has a heavenly scent.  Locals consider it a weed and prefer less rampant varieties to grow up their houses, but I love this Beach Rose and stop at every opportunity to literally smell the roses and hope to be figuratively doing the same, and writing about it, now that I am home. 



Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Cheese in a bag


How do you like your cheese? Can I suggest serving it out of a hairy goat's skin bag? If you haven't tried it you should. Tulum peynir (cheese matured in a goat's skin) is my favourite Turkish cheese. If you enjoy a mature cheddar, this is the cheese for you. Finding a cheese that was actually made in an animal skin is quite difficult now, but the cheeses matured in more commercially suitable tins or plastic vessels are almost as good. I'm not keen on cheese made from goats' milk as I can always detect that 'farmyard tang' which lingers after the first bite, so I try and find tulum cheese made from sheep's milk.  Take time to pick the one that suits you.  Cheese stalls on markets or supermarkets will let you taste before you buy, so work your way through the display until you find the one that tickles your tastebuds. İzmir tulum is my favourite; not too hard or crumbly, it is easy to slice thinly and has a full flavour. Teo loved Bergama tulum; the older the better, with a sharp aftertaste that could bite back - ideal for a rakı meze.  If you are looking for a cooking cheese, tulum will serve you well. It melts quickly and a little gives a lot of flavour. It also grates well and is a good substitute for Pecorino or Parmesan in pesto.

As pine nuts and Parmesan are so expensive in Turkey, my go to recipe for a pesto that doesn't cost the earth is: 
A cup of sunflower seeds, lightly toasted. 
4 cloves of garlic 
Two handfuls of green basil
A cup of olive oil. 

Combine these four ingredients in a blender or pestle and mortar until you have a rough paste, then add a cup of grated tulum cheese.  Keep a bowl on hand in your fridge to use in pasta or spread it on toast, baked aubergines, peppers or courgettes.