Silence is the language of God. All else is poor translation. -Rumi
I was kind of tickled that Rumi as so many of the Desert Fathers seem to agree with my blogging style. Best not to clog the internet pipes with my chatter unless there is something to share, no? 😉
So, where have I been?? Well, I recently had the blessing of spending two weeks traveling across Turkey with the Turkish Cultural Foundation who funded a trip for a group of teachers to learn and come back and share all of the beauty of the country not only to our students but whomever we can. Since I am so lucky to be reaching all of you, I am so glad you can travel virtually with me.
Let me tell you, Turkey blew me away! It was nothing I expected but everything I hoped it would be. Stunning topography met generous people all in a place that is a walking Unesco World Heritage Site. Crazy! The amount of ancient civilizations, Greek, Roman, Byzantine ruins and Ottoman architecture in this one country was insane.
The food? Just wait. I have a more than a few recipes to share with you that are healthy, delicious and simple to make. They will transport you there in just a few minutes in some cases! But, heck, if Turkey remains a stable country, there is no doubt that their already large tourism industry will grow steadily (And the good and bad that go along with that.) and you will want to be a part of that. Maybe you can share with me!
What is to come? In the spirit of Turkish food, I will keep the first few simple, Shepard’s Salad, some discussion on yogurt, a few syrup soaked desserts and a recipe for green beans that will transform how you think of this simple legume.
I imagine in the future there will be more as Turkish spices are slowly becoming part of my culinary repertoire but since it is summer we are keeping it simple and fresh.
Today I will leave you with a visual and informative trip to a few of the most beautiful sites in this stunning country. Welcome to Turkey, a travel blog for the next few weeks. This week we will revisit Turkey through their food and learn to make the ubiquitous and delicious Shepard’s Salad.
Shrouded in, Ephesus, Turkey. Note, I did not cover for Islamic modesty reasons as in a mosque but ancient Christians as well as some modern Catholics still veil at mass and in holy places. If not on the stone of the footsteps of Mary and the Apostles, where??? :)
Some of the group relaxing in Kusadasi, Turkey. To the right the Aegean Sea sparkles at sunset but there is beauty right here to see. What kind and inspirational teachers I had the pleasure to be around!
Cat on pillar, Ephesus, Turkey. Cats and dogs are typically tagged, given vaccines and set lose to live among the people. It is not as common to see animals, especially dogs, in homes but they are well loved.
Tower of Galata in the Romanesque style, built by the Genoese, in the reflection of the hotel restaurant, Istanbul, Turkey.
Basilica Cistern, Istanbul, Turkey. There used to be a Basilica on this spot. Then that got torn down. the pillars you see here were taken from other classical era buildings. This brilliant structure was used to store water that came in from the aqueducts outside the city. They are gorgeous and it always amazing me how intelligent and invention this was! Now it is holding water due to leaking.
Statue of Mary, Meryem Ana Evi (House of Mary), outside of Ephesus near Şirince, Turkey. The bible traces the last days of Mary to those of St. John the Apostle which historically were in Ephesus where the grave of St. John lies. The specific whereabouts of her house were revealed in a dream to Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, a Roman Catholic visionary and nun. Being that it is a private revelation, the Church does not negate nor accept this but it is a popular site for pilgrimage.
Mosaic of the Christos (Christ) in the dome of The Church of the Holy Savior in Chora, Istanbul. Istanbul is not only home to the Hagia Sophia which is world renowned but this stunning Byzantine church. Once a church, then a mosque, now a museum.
One thing the Ottoman empire was not was monastic. The opulence of Topkapi Palace and the view were striking. Serving as the primary residence of the Ottoman Sultans for over 400 years, it houses a few harem rooms (ahem), gardens and a large kitchen building where a myriad of delicacies including Sherbert drinks were made for the royalty and their guests. This shot overlooks the geographically important Bosphorus strait where today freight ships are always moving through. It was and is a major route for trade.
Street view of Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey. The Hagia Sophia (or Holy Wisdom/St. Sophia) was once a Byzantine church, then a mosque and now a museum. It was and perhaps still is one of the monuments that stirs the souls of people from many religions.
Here we have the Caravanserai Sultanhani at Askaray from the medieval Seljuk times.These were ancient motels for groups traveling with their goods across Turkey. You can tie up your camel, have a bite to eat and share stories with the other travelers. Pretty cool, huh. They also kept you safe from raiders with their high walls. The last stop in Turkey on the silk road was Bursa and today you can find a caravanserai turned into a large and beautiful silk market. You can curse me but I bought a cashmere scarf there.
Just another hill, huh? Well, that is what you are supposed to think. At the tippy top you see a window or doorway looking over the land. These are the homes and churches in the Göreme Valley in the Cappadocia region. This region is full of tufa which is a soft volcanic stone that is easy (er) to carve into. This, coupled with the Jenga like stone structures make it the perfect place for monastic hermits to find respite from the world. Over 300 little chapels/churches and tiny homes can be found all over the region. Need a secret hideaway? You may have to fight me for one. ;)
These natural “snow” covered rocks are actually formed by the calcium rich thermal waters at Pammukkale. The waters bubble up and stream their soothing waters all over the park, leaving deposits that shimmer in the sun as well as pockets of water that make for lovely wading pools. Originally, the waters were a holiday destination dating back to Roman times, now, hotels stud the area where people can bath in the medicinal water and smother their aching muscles with the mineral rich mud.
Many people in the Central Anatolian interior have their own cows and sheep to make milk and cheese. This area is also the “bread basket” of Turkey.
Eight underground stories of homes, wineries, stables and stores make up the city of Derinkuyu in Cappadocia. Around 20,000 people lived, prayed and breathed (uhhhhh) in this slightly claustrophobic area. I guess if I was being persecuted for my Christian faith and needed to go underground I could make it work too. Right?
The Turkish nazar or boncuğu is found everywhere in Turkey. Thought to ward off the evil eye or bad thoughts from people, it is a very popular amulet that some take more seriously than others. This tree overlooks Göreme valley and sits outside some stores where one can purchase their fill of protective amulets.
Yeah. I am a sucker. I bought a rug in Turkey. We all were treated to a tour where we saw silk spun, weavers hand tie their knots and were promised the women were paid fair wages. Then they came with the tea, the wine, the raki and the skilled salesmen started throwing out gorgeous rugs before us like a visual cornucopia. Think I can afford a real silk rug? Wrong. This one is wool on cotton and is still my biggest splurge to date. I am happy. :)