Wet and Ugly: The ıslak Burger

“It’s our hamburger. It’s small and it’s wet,” said my new Turkish friend. We had spent the day roaming the narrow alleys of Kadıköy Market on the Asian side of Istanbul, and I had stuffed my face with room temperature street mussels, minced meat flatbreads and a sketchy looking sandwich made with frozen fish from Norway. I had a…

And the Many Things I Didn’t Try

On trips there are always some specialties I don’t have time to try and passing them on the last day en route to the airport I feel the sting of a million tiny heartbreaks. I promise to myself or whoever is by my side that I will be back for those things but so often that has not been…

Pickled Things in Istanbul and Budapest

During my time in Istanbul I came across a surprisingly long list of things with an identical Hungarian counterpart. One of these was pickle culture. In both Hungary and Turkey pickled veggies are considered a necessary side to greasy, saucy meats as they help with digestion and break down excess fat. In Hungary pickles are…

Turkish Poğaça, Hungarian Pogácsa

In the most ancient of Hungarian folktales when the youngest of three sons sets out to explore the world, his mother packs for him “hamuban sült pogácsa” or biscuits baked in the ashes of a familiar fireplace. On my most recent trip to Hungary I encountered several homemade versions among the hors d’oeuvres served before the Christmas…

Deliciously Dumb Hotel Pizza, This Time in Istanbul

Between the stuffed lamb intestines, the sodden ıslak burgers, the suspect seafood peddled on the street I ordered a pizza to a hotel room and ate it with room service Heineken before my last night out in Istanbul. Sometimes, that happens. On trips I stay alert, almost obsessively so, for the popular eats and among those the unique ones. Bonus points…

Kokoreç and Sosis Dogs: Late Night Eats in Istanbul

We found ourselves on Kadife Sokak (nicknamed Barlar Sokak or “bar street”) in the Caferağa Mahallesi neighborhood of Kadıköy in Asia. At some point in life you should too. Restaurants, bars and clubs with plenty of character line both sides of the bustling street. Nightlife rages until Istanbul’s bedtime. There’s retro and  there’s rock. There are Ottoman mansions…

Turkish Coffee at Kahveci Ethem Tezçakar

Among the many things the Ottomans brought to Hungary during their 150-year reign, coffee was perhaps the most influential from a cultural standpoint. Their kahve became the Austro-Hungarian monarchy’s kávé, though it was originally referred to as “fekete leves” (black soup) in Hungary. The first coffeeshops in Europe opened in the 17th century, following a trend that began in…