iPhone Photoessay: (Delicious) Things I Consumed in Istanbul

Today is quite a busy day and I’ve little time for writing, so I thought it would be perfect for a little photoessay blast from the past. I’m not going to claim that I ate all the correct, culture-y foods in Istanbul, because I definitely didn’t. But my pallet still had a field day, rebounding off all of those Korean rice dishes and becoming wowed with interesting flavors and… bread. Oh, bread.

Before we get started, I’d like to apologize to my mother for putting one embarrassing photograph on the internet of her. I tried to make up for it by putting an embarrassing one up of me as well! That evens it out, right? Right?

[Related Post: Snapshots of Istanbul]

Anyways, here we go!

IMG_1199This obviously MUST be the first picture in a photoessay about food from Istanbul. Baklava is delicious, and we did our best to eat as much as possible and then a little extra. And that there is even more than one kind of baklava to try was mind-blowing to me. YUM!

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This photo is awkward, but there are two important aspects to it. One, I was drinking Turkish tea. Second, it’s inside the Grand Bazaar!

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This photograph, as far as photography goes, is a terrible picture and deserves to become corrupted and die. But it is a photo of two of my favorite food/drink things from Istanbul, and the lighting really was red, so I’ll allow it to see the face of the internet. This was out first evening in Istanbul, we were tired from flights but dragged ourselves out for food and, as you can see, dessert.

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The hotel breakfast was incredible, and it wasn’t even that incredible. Cheese, deli meat, bread, cheese, figs?! Apricot? CHEESE? BREAD?!!

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Straight out of the pomegranate, pomegranate juice. No sweeteners, no nothing. Super healthy, kind of (okay, realllllly) bitter, and for integrity’s sake we finished it anyways.

[Unrelated Post: iPhone Photoessay: Cats of Istanbul]

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During our first tour with Salih, he took us to this authentic Southern Turkish cuisine restaurant. We pointed to giant cauldrons and pots filled with food and they dished us out a large portion. The food was so strange, interesting and oddly, kind of healthy.

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The full spread. Look at all those colors! And weird shapes! And… BREAD.

 

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Street bagel/pretzel combos are a big thing in Istanbul, and if you want, they’ll even smear it with cream cheese or nutella.

[Unrelated Post: Featured Snapshot: One More Mosque]

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I’m so sorry, Mom, but this sandwich doner was too important to leave out of the photoessay. It was our first taste of the infamous Turkish food that’s now made its way to Germany (and then morphed a little). Junk food, but delicious junk food and I’m so glad I tried it.

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BREAD! This was on our second tour with Salih, and he took us to this family bakery in a neighborhood outside of the center. The bread was fresh baked and we got to check out the oven, too. Later we shared some bread and I can assure you it was better than the picture. It was also dirt cheap, my eyes bugged out at the (lack of) price.

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This juice was some kind of pickled radish/carrot situation and that face, right there, is exactly how it tasted. (Feeling better now, Mom?)

[Slightly Related Post: An Accidental Visit To The Princes’ Islands]

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We ended up at this restaurant three times in seven days of Istanbul. The servers were beyond kind, the food was quality and delicious, and it was close to our hotel. Sold! (Website for Fuego Cafe)

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Cheese! French fries! Grilled veggies! It wasn’t that spectacular of a lunch, taste-wise or creativity-wise, but it sure did look pretty.

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Toasting off our goodbye with some wine. And by some, I mean the largest glass of wine I’ve ever had delivered to me in a restaurant and tried to hold up in a picture.

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The classic “Starbucks with Mom” picture. Yeah, we went halfway across the world to look at stuff and then buy Starbucks coffee, try and stop us! Muahaha.

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What Istanbul food did I totally miss? What do you wish you were eating or drinking right now? Have you seen enough photographs of my face, now?

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Weird Noms: Salt & Seaweed Flavored Pringles

This past year, my friend Haley moved to Thailand to teach English. About six months ago, she posted this photo to Instagram. I was jealous, really jealous. Because I freaking love seaweed. And Pringles. A combination? I wanna try those!

Then this week, I was cruising slowly around my local grocery store, as I often do in both curiosity and indecision. Something caught my eye and low and behold, it was nothing other than Salt & Seaweed Pringles! My wishes come true. The price, 2,750 Korean won, or about $2.50, was not one of my wishes. Regardless, immediately following my return home, I sat down and cracked open the can of Pringles, stopping only long enough to take pictures before inhaling the entire can. Thankfully, I can do that on occasion, because my little rescue puppy drags my butt out of bed to go running six days a week. Jerk. But also thanks, Mary.

Shopping success.
Shopping success.

They don’t smell very potent, for lack of a better word. Faintly salty, faintly like dried seaweed. Actual dried seaweed has a much stronger smell, I would know because I’m snacking on some as we speak. I told you, it’s delicious.

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The Pringles, right before I sniffed them.

As for taste, I was a little disappointed. Part of the issue is that the Pringles were imported and had lost some of their crunch and pizazz during the trip, somehow. So the original Pringle taste wasn’t quite up to par. The other issue is that the seaweed taste was too soft and subtle. Go big or go home, Pringles! I want to taste my dried, green, dead ocean plant, not kind of, but full on, potent and in my face mouth.

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Pre-demolition.

Then why did I stuff my face with all of them, in such a short amount of time, all at once, you ask? Because I’m just like that. Because I love junk food. And because while they weren’t the most delicious chips I’ve ever had, I still like chips and seaweed and I was hungry after work. So they were consumed, in mass, quickly.

The final recommendation: if I’m willing to eat slightly stale original Pringles (the only kind available in my little town), then I’ll be going for the seaweed flavor. Yeah, it’s not that seaweed-y, but I like the extra kick. So tentative, if you think your Pringles won’t be stale, then thumbs up on these.

But I’m in this teeny rural area, and it’s just safer to go with the tried and true sheets of dried seaweed when I need a snack. With the added bonus of having less saturated fat and costing almost a third less, it’s hard to imagine not snacking on dried seaweed. Delicious, cheap, not stale, a little healthy?

Sorry seaweed Pringles, in this case, you lose.

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What To Eat in Korea: Sally’s List

After a few people came to Korea for the first time and I was bubbling with things for them to do and especially eat, I knew that this post needed to be written. I’m obsessed with food and I love eating. I’ll try almost anything at least once. This list is definitely not an exhaustive list of everything delicious in Korea; that’s just impossible to do. This is just a list of what kinds of food I would definitely force my family members to eat if they came to visit. That means what I find especially delicious will easily find itself at the top, it’s just the nature of the game. Soju & makgoelli are also on this list, despite being drinks.

I’ve grouped them into fives, the ones at the top are more important than the groups at the bottom. Meatless items have an asterisk (*) and full-blown, no fish and no meat vegetarian items are doubly starred (**). I’ve linked each item either to my own post, a Wikipedia entry or occasionally elsewhere to clarify what exactly it is.

Are you ready to eat? You’ll need a very, very empty stomach and perhaps a solid week to even manage all of these items. Here they are!

  • Patbingsu**: Ice, condensed milk, sweet red bean, rice cake, maybe nuts or other additives and you have one addictingly delicious dessert. That link leads to a guest post in which I raved for several paragraphs, in detail, about the food I’ll miss the most from Korea.
  • Instant Ramyeon noodles** from the convenience store, because when in Korea…
  • Hwae*, or sashimi (Wikipedia has such a weird spelling for this word, please disregard) is basically sushi, just without all of those unnecessary extras like rice or avocado. Raw fish, dip in spicy sauce, and eat.
  • Samgyeopsal or Korean barbeque is meat-tastic and delicious; technically samgyeopsal refers to thick pieces of bacon that you grill at your table, but the same shops will also sell several other cuts of meat like rib or beef. Eat with lettuce, spicy sauce, garlic and other additives for a mouth-flavor explosion.
  • Bibimbap(**) is a very typical cheap lunch with a rice base and several different kinds of vegetables that you mix together and maybe add spicy pepper paste to. You can ask for no meat, if you’re a veggie, and some versions already replace the meat with a kind of vegetable.
A classic Patbingsu without any of the extras.
A classic Patbingsu without any of the extras.
  • Hoddeok** is the sweet dessert of my dreams during the winter. It’s fried rice cake, filled with cinnamon and other nutty flavors on the inside.
  • Ddeokbokki* is a street food that’s especially good at night, after a few glasses of alcohol, with fried foods to dip in the sauce. Think hot rice cake and little bits of fish cakes covered in liquid spiciness.
  • Soju** tastes terrible but it’s a rite of passage, however don’t underestimate the alcohol content in it. It’s like vodka’s weak and grosser cousin that for some reason grows on you.
  • Makgeolli** is amazing when done right and an unfortunate decision when done wrong. Kind of like rice water with sugar and alcohol.
  • Sweet filled rice cakes**, preferably purchased from an elderly Grandma on the street are usually filled with things like honey, sesame seeds, or red bean. It’s always a surprise when you bite into one!
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A good candidate for buying rice cakes.
  • Fried chicken with sweet chili sauce. Self explanatory.
  • Mandu, or Korea’s version of dumplings, are addicting. Three typical kinds: kimchi (spicy!), pork and vegetables, or seafood.
  • Grilled eel* is exactly what it sounds like, and it’s yummy.
  • Raw beef and I promise you won’t die. Really. Mix with raw egg for the most tasty results.
  • Cold noodles(**), but proceed with caution because there is a large variety of tastes and some are quite strange, for best results, get a solid description in English (some noodles are in a beef broth, some are not).
No dying involved, simply deliciousness.
No dying involved, simply deliciousness.
  • Kimbab(*)(**), it looks like sushi but can have meat, tuna or simply vegetables inside instead of raw fish. It’s perfect for being on the go.
  • Dakgalbi is chicken, grilled at your table with spicy sauce, cabbage and rice cake. For some strange reason it’s really good.
  • Pork bone soup sounds terrifying, but it’s absolutely delicious. See the link for a more complete description: number 4, “Haejang Guk”.
  • Coagulated blood soup also sounds terrifying, but tastes so yummy if you can get over the fact that you’re eating blood jello. Don’t worry, there are noodles and vegetables too!
  • Squiggling, moving octopus* that you should chew very well before swallowing. This isn’t on the list for the taste, no it’s here because of the experience.
Delicious food for dinner helps soothe the pain of half an hour drives.
Pork spice soup, stacked high with kimchi, potatoes and other vegetables.

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Weird Noms: Baby Fish “Noodles”

If you don’t watch what you’re eating, you could end up with a mouthful of wide-eyed and slimy baby fish. Yeah… those aren’t rice noodles.

Thanks, Korea, for keeping me on my toes.

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Weird Noms: Pizza Ddeokbokki + the Resulting Food Poisoning

The culprit.
The culprit.

Note to readers: I wrote this post shortly after eating this meal. Little did I know the true havoc it would wreak on me. The next day I woke up vomiting and spent all day with agonizing stomach pain. I had to see a doctor, who diagnosed me with an intestinal irritation (which was likely brought on by this, perhaps also the fact that it was followed by ice cream) and I was forced on a liquid/sludge/soup diet for the better part of a week, about 6 days. I now know the Korean word for diarrhea. Im taking medicine and am not allowed to eat or drink anything colder than room temperature. For your own health and safety… never eat pizza ddeokbokki.

Continue reading Weird Noms: Pizza Ddeokbokki + the Resulting Food Poisoning

Weird Noms: PB Sand

Sometimes when you shorten words, they mean something else…

Strangely, it didn’t taste very much like sand. I was looking forward to a taste of the beach, but I guess I’ll just have to chew a mouthful of rocks to get that. You win some, you lose some!

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That One Time I Traveled Three Hours for a…

I had a craving.

And so, I woke up this Sunday morning and packed my purse: I was headed to Seoul. I ate a quick breakfast and stepped outside, then walked a few minutes down the road to stand outside the convenience store and wait for the bus. Continue reading That One Time I Traveled Three Hours for a…

Weird Noms: Raw Beef

No dying involved, simply deliciousness.

My entire childhood I was taught that raw meat would kill me, but I woke up this morning still breathing, so I’ve concluded that this is false.

This is a Korean traditional food. It’s raw beef. Mixed with a raw egg. Sounds gross, right? But being adventurous, I’ll try any food once. I wasn’t expecting to like this one, but it was actually delicious.

I wouldn’t suggest trying this one at home… you know. In case you die or something.

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taking a moment: chopstick rant

there are some things that I wonder about… why does my mom like cows so much? why do people still wear bell bottoms? what’s going on in my apartment building?

one of those questions is this: who was the Asian that decided eating all of their food with two sticks was the most logical option?

yes, I have issues with these so called… chopsticks. Continue reading taking a moment: chopstick rant