Friends and Fruit

Our good friend David called this morning with news of a new restaurant just opened on the road to Kustur Beach.  Apparently the food is excellent and different so we are off to try it tomorrow night, meeting first on Ken Amjer’s terrace for drinks at 7.30.

There is a pleasant excitement and camaraderie about this, as there is in many friendships among the ex-pats out here.  We don’t live in each others pockets (we are all too busy for that!) but we share a lot; restaurant discoveries, garden centres with the best bougainvillea, horseradish sauce!

I remember Ken telling me about the tins of ginger thin biscuits you could buy in Ikea in Izmir; I bought a tin and wolfed them in a week!  At the same time I bought ten packets of smoked salmon for David to stock up his freezer.  I remember Ali telling me where to find the man who sells the wild strawberries at the Friday market, small and sweet and wholly different to the normal fat strawberries that go soft in minutes these are a delight served with Greek yoghurt and sprinkling of ground sugar.

With the exception of the excellent Salt Box restaurant (possibly the finest fish and chips I have ever eaten) we steer clear of the tourist haunts.  Now that Ali has closed his restaurant we eat at BeBop at the Marina for beautifully presented Italian food, the finest Caesar salads and artfully arranged puddings that are almost too pretty to eat.  Here mainly Turkish people enjoy the view of the yachts and the soft background jazz music whilst sitting under the olive trees.  Rarely do we leave there before 1am.

The peaches are just coming in to season here in Kirazli.  Seasonal food is a joy to discover after the years of just nipping down to Tesco’s at any time of year to buy what I wanted.  Seasonal fruit tastes like I remember from my childhood and it marks the year as clearly as the thermometer.  The time when the plums go from green and horribly sour to yellow and nectar sweet; the time of the black cherries which are softer and fleshier than their paler cousins; the time of the valuable apricots that peel cleanly away from their stones; the time of the grapes swelling bruise black on their short grapevines. 

On the road to Kirazli the farmer’s wives and daughters sit in the shade selling fresh fruit, trays of cherries and plums and now peaches.  Each one carefully sprinkles the road in front of the stall with water several times a day to lay the dust so it will not dull the glistening fruit.  On the mountain pass the melon seller sits patiently under his sunshade by the old well.  He arranges his melons in stacks and tops each one with a tomato.  I wonder where he goes at night?

Surfeits of fruit, but you never tire of it because the variety comes and goes and you look forward to this time next year when it arrives again for a few short weeks.

So tomorrow night we will all go off and judge this new restaurant and hope it is a treasure to join the ranks of our favourites, and if it isn’t we will have had a pleasant evening out and laughed our way through the sultry Turkish night.
posted 28-06-2007