Sunday, 18 August 2013

How we came to meet the lady waiting for the cows to come home ....

When we used to visit Turkey for holidays, we went to all the usual tourist stops on organised trips and thoroughly enjoyed them too. But one big advantage of actually living here is that you can travel at your own pace, and often the journey is as enjoyable as the place you have actually set out to visit.

A few weeks ago  a friend and I went to stay at the Pure Life Village at  Beğiş near Korkuteli and I wrote about our adventures there in a previous post, but at the time I did not describe the drive there and that too is worthy of mention and proves the point I made above.

We set off from Üzümlü around mid afternoon. Neither of us had eaten before we left, and we were not sure that we would get food at the village arriving late, so after about an hours drive we stopped at one of the roadside restaurants for a meal.

"Waiting for the cows to come home"
I can't tell you how many times we have stopped at one of these places, ordered something purely because we recognised what it was, and then seen a Turkish person arrive and have an utterly splendid meal, just because they knew what to ask for and we didn't. Not that we have ever had a disappointing meal, but we do like to try new things, and these places more often than not don't have a menu.

So it was great to be making this journey with a Turkish friend who could order for us both and I just waited to see what we got. First of course we were served with salad and bread, but shortly after a plate of meat arrived. I tried it and it was delicious! My friend asked me what I thought it was and I said it was fabulous lamb! Lamb is my favourite meat so I was really happy. She explained that it was Kuzu Kelle or for us Brits more commonly known as lambs head!  Don't know if I would have ordered that but it was superb, and I would definitely eat it again. She told me that is a very popular Turkish dish which is usually served with the meat still on the skull complete with eyes. She had asked for the meat to be removed and served on a plate and I thank her for that!

Kuzu tandır - lamb cooked slowly over several hours in a wood oven, until the meat just falls off the bone
Next along came ciğer (liver), this appeared in a sizzling pan, and prompted by my friend we added cumin and lemon juice, neither of which I would have thought to have with liver. Again superb!

Ciğer (liver), sizzling in the pan small cubes simply cooked in olive oil
Getting a bit full now, but then along came a platter of kuzu pirzola (lamb chops). I had been watching the guy cook these on a barbecue by the roadside and they smelt wonderful, and tasted even better, especially with my new trick of sprinkling cumin on top. Just as I thought I was bursting another plate of lamb chops arrived, well they had to be eaten didn't they? What a great meal, I really enjoyed it.

Lamb chops cooking on the roadside barbecue
After we had eaten we had a good look around the grounds. We were shown how they cook the lamb in the wood ovens, slowly so that it just falls of the bone. We saw the washing up water being heated in a massive cauldron heated above a wood fire and we saw the meat chillers with whole lamb carcasses hanging.

Heating the water for the washing up
But the absolute highlight of the day was meeting Grandma who was waiting for the cows to come down from the pastures higher up the mountains, and she stood complete with a large stick which was either to herd the cows or to lean on, or possibly both. She was waiting for them so that she could prevent them from running onto the main road. She had the most magnificent set of eyebrows. What a character, and what a lovely lady.

Retirement age means nothing to these village ladies - still working hard
More than suitably full we settled our bill and returned to the car. As we were getting in it, another patron of the restaurant pointed out that we had an almost flat tyre, so we headed off slowly to the next garage, to ask someone to check it out. The verdict was that it needed changing and that there was a tyre place at the garage in the next village. So we topped up the tyre with air and set off to find it.

Not the swish tyre bays we're used to but the UK could learn a bit about service from here!
By now it is gone 7.00 pm on a Saturday evening, in the UK there would be no hope and we still had a lot of miles to travel. Drawing in to the next garage we saw a tyre place in the corner, door open, but no-one there. On the door was a telephone number so we rang and the man said he would be there within 30 minutes. Meanwhile, we topped up the gas in the car and were chatting to the petrol attendants when within ten minutes the tyre man arrived. It took him less than another ten minutes to remove the tyre, point out the nail in it, mend it and have it back on the car. What service that was at approaching 8.00pm on a Saturday night. Would that be possible in the UK? I think not.

Quickly fixed and back on our way
So on our way again through the most beautiful scenery to Beğiş, destination reached. Another fantastic journey through stunning mountain scenery and meeting awesome Turkish characters and yet again being recipients of the wonderful Turkish hospitality and service.

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