Posts Tagged ‘food’

10:19 pm


I’ve been seeing these temporary lokma stands here and there around Kuşadası for more than a year now, most often on Fridays and frequently near mosques, but until yesterday, I had never stopped.

It is apparently traditional to sponsor such a stand and provide free lokma to any and all to mark the anniversary of a death or to celebrate a recent birth or to give thanks for a wish come true. This one fell in the first category:

"Ruhuna Fatiha" is roughly equivalent to "Rest in peace": it’s what you see on tombstones as well.

As near as I can make out, "Ruhuna Fatiha" means "spirit of Al-Fatiha", Al-Fatiha in turn being the opening sura of the Qur’an:

In the name of God, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy. Praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds, the Lord of Mercy, the Giver of Mercy, Master of the Day of Judgement. It is You we worship, it is You we ask for help. Guide us to the Straight path: the path of those You have blessed, those who incur no anger and who have not gone astray.

At any rate, this is the first time I decided to take a turn in line. I watched the lokma being made:

After being fried, these doughnut-like pastries get a quick bath in syrup and are served up in little plastic trays. My own little tray of the finished product:

The verdict? Leaving aside the universal appeal of free food, I was not terribly impressed. In particular, I found them rather bland. Of course, my basic attitude towards sweets is that if there’s no chocolate involved, then what’s the point? (I ran across one forum posting that suggested that lokma are particularly good with ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce – a sort of deconstructed profiterole.)

This recipe looks to be pretty representative if you want to try them yourself.

1:27 am

Impressing French waiters

Things I’ve learned about impressing French waiters:

  • Ordering an apéritif, especially a Ricard (an anisette), impresses them to no end. I haven’t quite figured out why this is, but they really straighten up at that. Kir is also very popular, and is frequently a default selection when a restaurant includes an apéritif as part of its menu.
  • Ordering cheese instead of something sweet for dessert also marks you as a force to be reckoned with. It’s not a bad move at any rate, since I find that French desserts are pretty boring. Note: Those luscious, creamy pastries you see in the bakeries? They never make an appearance for dessert; the French don’t understand why you want something rich like that after your meal. (But you do want something rich like cheese? Well, no one says this is logical.) Pastries make an appearance only at the French version of tea time, the goûter.
  • Ordering a digestif, such as an Armagnac or a Calvados, also wins over waiters. Outside of Paris, ordering a regional specialty will especially endear you. I ordered Izzara (a green, herby Basque liqueur, kind of like Chartreuse, only milder) in Lourdes, and my (Basque) waiter immediately became my new best friend.

I’ve thought about trying to train myself to eat with my fork in my left hand, in the Continental style, but finally decided against it. Any attempt to masquerade as a native withers and dies the instant I open my mouth to speak, so why bother? Besides, as Miss Manners observes, "American table manners are, if anything, a more advanced form of civilized behavior than the European, because they are more complicated and further removed from the practical result, always a sign of refinement".

4:50 am

The “Littleness” of French food and drink

French food and drink is almost always expressed in terms of "littleness". There’s the petit goûter (little snack) to accompany your afternoon cafe or tea, the petit apéro (little apéritif) to precede dinner, the petit déssert and petit cafe follow dinner (no translation needed here surely!) And even in the markets, one orders a petit poulet rôti (little roasted chicken). Without noticing, I’ve fallen into the same pattern, asking for a petit pavé de saumon (little filet of salmon) or a petit morceau de bleu de causses (a little piece of bleu de causses, my favorite blue cheese).

So it was very odd in the bakery this morning when a gentleman ordered a gros morceau de quiche paysan (a big piece of quiche paysan). The clerk repeated his request, in an amused voice, and soon the entire line was buzzing, “A big piece?” “Yes, a big piece.” “He ordered what?” “A big piece.”

(For what it’s worth, I think the piece he ended up with was the standard size.)

11:58 am

The corner bakery

The bakery on the corner is the one with the longest lines on Sunday mornings: I don’t know that it proves that it’s the best in the neighborhood, but it seems a reasonable proxy.

I’ve been popping in a few times a week to get my lunchtime sandwiches and my Sunday morning pain du chocolat (chocolate croissant) and the occasional loaf of bread. The staff there are very nice and the bread is tasty. French sandwiches are more about the bread than the filling, and I find that suits me well. They also have other savory baked goods, such as quiches, pizza, lasagne, etc., as well as a generous selection of pastries and candies. Fortunately, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I’ve resisted the temptation.

Until today, when I got a millefeuille (AKA napoleon) to go with my lunch. It was beautifully flaky and custardy. There is, however, no chocolate involved, so expect I’ll be able to resume resisting the temptation. Although there’s no shortage of chocolate-rich pastries from which to choose.

4:19 pm

Second visit to Table d’Eugene

I may just try eating my way through the menu.

My first visit, I had the salade aux boudin noir (salad served with four croûtes of black sausage), brick auvergnate (a sort of gratin with potatoes, cheese, and ham), and lemon sorbet.

This second visit, I had the salade de cabécou au miel (salad with chèvre drizzled with honey), poisson au sauce beurre nantes (fish with a *very* buttery sauce studded with baby shrimp), and tarte belle Hèlene (a tarte with a filling of chocolate mousse studded with poached pear).

I have to say that the desserts are the weak spot: the lemon sorbet featured too much rind, making it bitter, and the tarte was okay, but boring.

My initial impression of Table d’Eugene as a neighborhood spot has been confirmed, though.

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