"Don't come back from Izmir without trying Çeşme Kumrusu!"
This was just one of the many pieces of advice given to us by Turkish friends before we set off for our trip to Izmir in September. But it was also the piece of advice; the common thread that linked all the other suggestions offered. Woe betide us if we returned to Fethiye without trying Çeşme Kumrusu, the famous sandwich of the Izmir region.
Well, there was never any chance we weren't going to try it, was there? No point in travelling, for us, if you're not going to munch your way through all foods famous to the area. We didn't have to look far, either. Most of the food stands had Çeşme Kumrusu on offer. We chose a stand that offered Kömürde Çeşme Kumrusu (cooked over coals), ordered, took our seats and watched.
There were a few people ordering Çeşme kumrusu, so various cobs were sliced through the middle and placed onto the barbecue to heat through. Notice how smiley our kumrucu (maker of kumru) is. This is one of our abiding memories of Izmir - the folks of this city were generally a happy-looking bunch.
We could clearly see the kumru was underway, so we started to prepare ourselves and our table. We removed the lid from the jar of turşu (pickled chillies, in this case) so we could add them to our sandwich. Any sort of Turkish street food without turşu is lacking something.
Slithers and rings of salami were tossed around on the hot coals before being scattered over the waiting cobs of warming bread. Then it was the turn of the sucuk, followed by a wedge of cheese. It's a hefty amount of filling as you can see in the photo below!
Somehow, the kumrucu has to wrestle all of this filling (along with a bit of sliced tomato) between the two halves of bread, close it, wrap it, and serve it to the waiting customer all in one piece. He's obviously done this before - but we watched with interest...and started to wonder how we were actually going to eat our Çeşme Kumrusu. Visions of ketchup, mayo, cheese oozing everywhere...
Our Çeşme Kumrusu is delivered to us and it's the moment of truth. Possible to eat? Is it edible? Well, yes to both of those. Remarkably easy to keep the sandwich in one piece as you sink your teeth into it. The bread is the same as that used for simit and so by the time we've eaten it, we're super full!
The Çeşme Kumrusu Verdict:
- We were in Izmir on a tight budget but the Çeşme Kumrusu didn't make too much of a dent in it. We managed to fill ourselves at lunchtime for just 4 TL each.
- We were complete kumru novices and so we have no idea if this is a good example of a classic Çeşme Kumrusu. We can certainly recommend the sandwich we ate, though.
- The Çeşme Kumrusu is very similar to the Yengen kebab we wrote about a while back. The difference between the two is the Yengen kebab has fried egg and pickled gherkins in addition to all the fillings you can see above.
- Oh yes, and the Çeşme Kumrusu is a much more sensible size for one person!
- We've got to say, while we did enjoy our Çeşme Kumrusu, our söğüş was more tasty...and more memorable.