A Turkish delight

I’ve always liked Turkey’s most popular foods – baklava, Turkish delight and kebabs – so it was natural that I would seek them out when I visited old Constantinople. While hunting down these tasty morsels, I saw all the most famous sites – the Blue Mosque, Aya Sofiya, the Grand Bazaar and the Galata Tower – but I wasn’t until my teeth sliced their way through the most tender kebab I’d ever had that I realised what I’d truly been missing.

This earth shattering kebab was at Kasap Osman, tucked away on a small street. A local had sent me there assuring me that it was an authentic place, and that I should order only a few, specific ingredients: lamb, fresh yoghurt and special Turkish rice. That’s it. No salads, no fancy sauces and no grease. The lamb was finely shaved directly onto the plate to avoid letting it fall into the grease. The yoghurt was thick, like a slab of jelly and so divinely fresh that I was compelled to lather it on with every bite. As I looked up to see a photo of Russell Crowe hanging on the wall, I knew I’d truly found the right place.

The other pleasant surprises were tea (which I normally don’t enjoy) and Turkish hot chocolate, which is disgustingly thick like you’d find in Italy, Max Brenner’s or a Lindt shop.

The best activity by far was lying still for 30 minutes on a hot slab of marble in a calming, scented, dripping hamam. I loved watching the water flow through a simple gutter in the marble floor which ran all around the edges of the rooms and took the used water to some mystical place out of sight. I felt like warm butter by the time a muscular, older man made me sit down in the corner so that he could vigourously scrub and knead me. Being scrubbed and kneaded by a muscular, older man isn’t normally my idea of fun, but it was certainly a unique and memorable experience.

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