Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Eating in Eskisehir

Eskisehir, Turkey is not a tourist destination and it was a bit random how I ended up there. Of course, as usual, I was couchsurfing while in Turkey. For most of the places that I went I didn't have too much trouble finding a place to stay, but I had originally intended to go to Bursa, the 4th largest city in Turkey after Istanbul. I tried for two weeks to find a couch to sleep on, but everyone seemed to be too busy to host me. So, I looked at a map and decided to just pick a city in between Istanbul and Ankara, which was my third stop. The city that popped up was Eskisehir and I just sent out some couchsurfing requests without doing much research besides a quick wikitravel check. I immediately got back about four replies, all yes, and then I had the awkward job I am not used to having, which was to actually turn down some people. I just chose the first person that said yes, which was a cute university age girl and her boyfriend who lived right in the center of the city. And since I came on a weekend, they were totally free to show me around and hang out with me and become my travel buddies.

The great thing about these couchsurfers was that they were just as obsessed with eating as I am. And not just obsessed with eating, but finding all the local specialties in little neighborhood restaurants that a tourist like me would never have thought to enter. Our first night, they gave me the grand tour of the little college city.

This is boza. It's a drink (drink-ish... I ate it with a spoon...) made from chickpeas and I don't know what else. Apparently, most foreigners hate the stuff, but they have to bring everyone by to try it since this little shop is famous in town. I actually found the drink to be quite nice if you add cinnamon, which most people were doing. And quite a bit of cinnamon. Without the cinnamon, well, it was like drinking plain chickpeas, which isn't quite so appealing... but the thing with chickpeas is that they taste so nice with other spices. Why else would hummus taste so good?

This is a wrap made with cig kofte. As I now look on the internet it seems cig means raw and kofte is a kind of meatball, and cig kofte is kind of a spicy raw meatball but the spices "cook" the meat and keep it from spoiling...but the particular variety that we ate was actually vegetarian.

For breakfast the next morning, they took me out for another local treat: gözleme. This is a flat pastry filled with a layer of fillings. There were lots of options for the filling like meat, veggies or cheese, but they convinced me to get the supreme, a little bit of everything. While there is many ways to enjoy this thing, I did the easiest thing was to just roll up the big flat pastry and eat it like a burrito. It was absolutly lovely and a perfect amount of food. Oh, and all those vegetables on the table were "service" as they say in Korea. Aka, free. 

After our brunch we headed out for another tour of the town. They took me up to the highest point in town to get a nice view of the mountains and the city below. And they took me through the old town, Odunpazarı, full of old 19th century Ottoman style homes. Fans of my blog will know I have a weakness for old places... 

 My last morning, before hopping on the train to Ankara, we stopped in another local joint for some çiğ börek for breakfast. This fried pastry along with some ayran, the Turkish yogurt drink, was the perfect last memory of Eskisehir.

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