Wednesday, April 05, 2006

şalgam suyu istiyorum!

Never having run across the lovely refreshing drink called şalgam when I was touring through Turkey, it was a nice suprise not long ago to experience it for the first time. I was looking for interesting vinegars and this was in the same asile at my neighborhood Turkish imports shop. I read the label and thought I might be able to use it in some kind of pickle making: "Juice of carrot, partially lactic acid fermented with yeast, salted" The cashier's curiosity was piqued (as it sometimes is in that shop since I'm always rooting through everything they have in stock in search of yummy things) and he asked me if I had ever had it before. He explained to me that this is a great drink that comes at different levels of spiciness, and it is really great to have before a meal as it stimulates the appetite. I got it home and drank the whole bottle in a matter of two days. It just tastes GREAT. I think this will be a great drink on ice during the summer. A little more research and find out that it's fermented in Mulberry barrels and spiced up with turnip juice and all kinds of lovely things. It has got me thinking of the wonderful time I spent touring around Turkey.
The first time I went to Turkey, in my impetuous 20s, I chose to travel alone. I went on an impulse, it just seemed like a good hot sunny place to go. I flew down from Frankfurt straight down to the sourthern coast with my camera and not much else. By the first afternoon I was riding with some vinyard workers from town to town in minivans. I was navigating from an outdated travel guide and unfortunately picked a town, a small fishing village that was written up in the guide as a town with a clean and reasonably priced hotel. The sun was setting as I stepped off the minibus and waved goodbye to the old man who had helped me count my change. He stared past me as the minibus drove out of sight leaving a trail of dust behind it. As the dust settled I heard the siren call of the mosque and also saw a tea house with some men sitting outside, watching me very carefully. I approached the the hotel where I'd planned to stay, and saw in the twighlight that the door was missing. Indeed, the hotel was closed, it was being completely rebuilt, it was a construction site. I spoke not one word of Turkish, there was no other place in town, and darkness would fall soon. What to do?

A little boy who had been playing among the sacks of concrete jumped out and pointed at me and said something in German. I just stared at him, and he ran away. The child returned with two men, one older and one close to my age. They younger man spoke to me in German, and finally they realized that I could really only say I was looking for a place to stay. It was really just a coincedence that I was mistaken for a German at first, I was blonde and the child had no doubt heard of German tourists in the region, since the southern Turkish coast attracts them. We were near the Syrian border and this was clearly not a tourist town. I flipped through the tour guide index with the common phrases and we managed to somehow communicate. The mayor of the town (the older man, who was also the owner of the hotel) found me a place to stay for the night in one of the finished rooms.

The next day, after I'd managed to find my way down back to the place where I'd been the night before, a place that would have been the lobby in the middle of the construction site, a small table was set with clean pressed white linens and silver. I had been invited to breakfast with the mayor. A boy in a brillliant white shirt brought us a Turkish/English dictionary from the year 1918 on a tray. We had a beautiful simple meal. I drew pictures and we made hand signals and he was thoroughly amused with me, and he ended up lending me his car that day. I returned it with the gas tank full as payment. Those days will never come again, I suspect. I toured around and saw everything there was to see. It was rather stupid for a 23 year old American girl to take off to Turkey all by herself like that, but I learned about being a traveler back then. I suppose it was my high visibility that had people kindly looking after me every step of the way. I was treated very kindly in Turkey and I will never forget my experiences there.

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6 Comments:

Anonymous emiglia said...

That sounds like a dream come true! I just stumbled upon your blog... I'm another expat American relocated to France, and I'm finding it amazing to see some of the things you've learned to do with the local ingredients. And your pictures are lovely.

8:16 PM, September 20, 2007  
Blogger Jen in NH said...

Oh, the impetuous 20s! They do make for some wonderful stories. My college roommates and I did this same kind of spontaneous traveling - following the big bold highway line in a rented or borrowed car - during our semester abroad in London. Looking back now I don't know how we didn't get into some serious trouble sleeping at truck stops, not speaking any of the languages well...thanks for the description and sparking those memories.

I've been leaving your blog hungry - and inspired - each day.

9:39 PM, January 19, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which city are you in? Almost all major cities in US has a Turkish grocery and they all sell Salgam Suyu imported from Turkey.

7:22 PM, September 23, 2010  
Blogger Ozan Kaleli said...

The best Turkish Shalgam (salgam suyu) is produced by SENA GIDA. Tha factory is placed between Adana - Mersin City called Tarsus Industry Zone. For detalis e-mail to: o.kaleli@vinsu.com.tr and www.vinsu.com.tr

10:20 AM, April 23, 2011  
Anonymous mehmet said...

hi
i mix salgam with pommegranate molasses on a 50/50 basis and use it on grilled onions or as a salad dressing as well as reducing it down and serving it next to grilled lamb
it really makes a huge difference
also when i am making a sauce with onions, mushrooms red wine etc i will add the hot version of salgam and then add pieces of sealed beef, and allow to reduce
it has untold uses
hope you enjoy
mehmet

10:13 AM, July 13, 2011  
Anonymous Yellowcat said...

You can make a good dip from thick yogurt spiced with some salgam and a few chilli flakes on top.

I first had this when visiting a Turkish neighbour.

2:27 PM, October 22, 2011  

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