The Unvegan

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Turkish Food Week, Part V: Cigarette Bread, Meatballs and Pizza

For my final day of Turkish Food Week, I’d like to wrap up with a few more interesting dishes I encountered on my journey. We’ll return to my regular unvegan lifestyle next week!

Not as unhealthy as real cigarettes.
Not as unhealthy as real cigarettes.

Cigarette bread is a mysterious food that was first served to me at the Ban Ban Cave Restaurant in Cappadocia. Considering how many cigarettes Turkish people smoke everyday, I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone told me cigarette bread was just a new way they found to ingest tobacco. For all I knew, it could have been bread wrapped around an actual cigarette. I bit in with immense curiosity and found it to just a thin shell of bread, wrapped around ricotta cheese and fried. This is probably only slightly healthier than actual cigarettes. It quickly became one of my favorite dishes in Turkey.

Pasha makes some meaty balls...
Pasha makes some meaty balls... does the Rug Collective does the Rug Collective

Turkey also offered up some pretty good meatballs, but the chefs always found the need to garnish the plates with some sort of vegetable or salad. I could ignore this and assume something was lost in translation on the menu, but always felt bad about the poor, defenseless vegetables that had to die for my sake. The best meatballs I had were from Pasha Restaurant in Sulanahmet, Istanbul. I also had meatballs at the “Rug Collective” in Selcuk, which my wonderful guide took me to. This was quite an interesting situation. Not only was I served food, but was also given some great information on rugs and the chance to buy them at a pretty good price (scam?). There was no pressure to buy, however, and I found myself very contented with the meal I was digesting while viewing rugs. In general, though, I found a lot of dishes better than the Turkish meatballs.

A pizza pockmarked with olives.
A pizza pockmarked with olives.

Although Turkey has it’s own pizza-like dish in pide, they also make pizza the old-fashioned way. While waiting for a bus in Urgup, Cappadocia, someone recommended that we go to the Sukurogullari Pastanesi and told me the pizza was pretty good. Indeed, as I checked out the menu, it did look quite tasty. The menu said it came with pepperoni, onions, corn, two kinds of salami (TWO!) and red peppers. I was amazed that in a country thain which no one eats pork, they were able to not only make one kind of salami, but two, and then make pepperoni! I ordered mine without onions or red peppers. When it came, my jaw dropped in disgust. My pizza was speckled with olives, of the black and green variety. Why had someone let such awful earthly products destroy the joyful salami occasion? At least have the decency to warn me! My anger was of no avail, as my waiter spoke no English, and I was left to remove my olives on my own. The meats were pretty good, but did little to quell my olive-induced fury. That was the first and last pizza I would order in Turkey.