We’re starting to think we must have been Turks in a past life. It’s the pickles, you see! We love them! For me, when I was a kid, I used to love eating pickled onions or red cabbage straight from the jar followed by a few spoonfuls of the vinegar. I got no end of telling off from my mum for this – bad for me, I’ll get stomach ache, bla bla.
I used to eat a couple of the onions from the jar as soon as I got in from school before she got in from work. A secret pickle eater – which wasn’t very secret once she realised the jar was empty of pickles and half the vinegar! So really, I don’t know where this love of pickles has come from but love ’em I do! I can’t say I ever ventured as far as the pickled onions and pickled red cabbage though. I never liked anything else. Well, that’s all changed since moving here. It’s all just pickles now and the pair of us are happy to eat the lot.
So, we’ve just got back from the Sunday market in Çalış and we had gözleme (Turkish pancake) as usual. These huge plastic tubs of pickles are the norm at the gözleme and kebab stands and you get a little plate to put them on. It’s every pickle-lover’s dream. We were a tad disappointed today because we couldn’t get on a table with other pickles.
The good people of Turkey will pickle any sort of veg so you get tubs of pickled carrots, aubergines and parsley, cauliflower, cucumber, garlic, beetroot – usually with a couple of chillies thrown in for a bit of spice. Notice I’m saying ‘tubs’. No point messing around with little jars here. They wouldn’t last two minutes. I pickled some red cabbage a couple of weeks ago and we’ve nearly eaten it all. I can’t say much of it has been eaten with our meals either. Every time I go in the fridge for something, I have to have a spoonful of it – not a forkful because you can’t get enough vinegar on a fork.
But…I no longer have to feel like a secret pickle eater and vinegar drinker. Our Turkish friends came back from Istanbul a week ago and she put some photos on Facebook of one of the street vendors selling drinks. I didn’t think anything of it until she told me he was selling cups of vinegar that had been used to pickle beetroot. It’s watered down a bit and some extra spices thrown in. Wow!!! See, I must have been a Turk in a past life. They drink pickle vinegar.
We’re going to Istanbul next month and we will be in that queue for a cup of the spicy stuff – oh, yes we will! Mmm Mmm Mmmmmmm…I wonder if there are any more people out there who get excited about a trip to Istanbul – the 2010 European Capital of Culture and home to some of the most famous buildings in the world – just so they can drink a cup of pickle juice, quite openly, in public, and not look like a complete weirdo…