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We’ve Discovered Izmir Söğüş

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As we explored the area, we were continuously coming across an unfamiliar word ‘söğüşçü.’ He who is a maker of söğüş.

Exploration of a new city on foot is our preferred mode of transport – if the city lends itself to it, that is.

Izmir is perfect for wandering around as most of the areas we want to see are relatively close together, centred around the coast and, therefore, it’s flat.

So, we walked with purpose and we wandered aimlessly; we’re armed with lots of tips of what to see, what to do in Izmir – and what to eat.

Sampling Söğüş

We had more than enough to keep us occupied, but it’s always exciting when we stumble across something new, something we’ve never previously seen or heard of in Turkey.

İzmir Söğüş Area
You can’t escape söğüş in Izmir

“What’s söğüş? Nobody’s mentioned that to us.”

We went over to the window of one shop to see what we could glean.

Definitely product of an animal as we could see lots of meaty bits. But which bits of the animal. And which animal?

Aco, Alsancak, Izmir
This word is a feature of Izmir for us

Then we saw the word a couple of times again, further fuelling our curiosity.

It was time we found out about this mysterious söğüş.

While we were quenching our thirst after the day’s mini expedition, we asked the guy serving us what it was.

Tongue. Cheek. Brain.

“Oh, I like it very much,” he said. “It’s very famous in Izmir. Tongue, cheek and brain.”

We’ve enjoyed many a kokoreç over the years so this didn’t sound too unpalatable.

Well that was evening meal sorted, then. We decided we needed to give it a go.

No point coming all the way to Izmir and not trying their famous (even if we had never heard of it and no one had told us about it) street food.

We’d seen a couple of places specialising in it around Alsancak, where we were staying, so we headed straight for Söğüşçü ACO.

Tongue & Cheek Meat
Tongue and cheek on display

There it was, on display in the window. The tongue and the cheek surrounded by fresh, peeled tomatoes, red onion, chopped parsley and Turkish pickles (turşu).

Brain For Söğüş, Izmir
Not the most appetising-looking of foods – brain

And there was the brain. Again, surrounded by far more attractive – and more appetising – salad stuffs.

We sat at a table and the guy came out to serve us.

All we knew was that we were here for söğüş. No idea how it’s served. Warm or cold? On a plate?

Well there was no menu so we just went for it and asked for two söğüş in our best, attempting-to-sound- knowledgeable Turkish.

Do you want everything on it, we were asked. Errrrm, go on then. We’re here now. Might as well. (Barry was much more excited about this new Turkish street food discovery than I was.)

Söğüş Chopping
Expert söğüş preparation

The söğüşçü set to work with a super-sharp knife, thinly slicing the tongue and the cheek.

I was okay with this bit; I’ve eaten many a tongue sandwich with my nana when I was little.

It was just the brain I was a bit concerned about.

Flat-bread was sprinkled liberally with chopped red onion, parsley and mint, and tomato was layered on top.

The cold meat was then layered on top of that – a lot of cold meat. And then the brain came. That was cut into slices and placed carefully on top of the meat.

It looked soft.

Now for the cumin – lots of it – and hot chilli flakes – lots of them.

Both of the edges of the bread were pulled towards the centre and another flatbread placed on top to fill the gap.

Izmir Söğüş
The finished product. Looks good, doesn’t it?

Somehow, the söğüşçü managed to roll paper around the bottom half of this creation, without everything collapsing and falling out, before securing it with an elastic band.

He’s obviously done this a few times before.

Dinner was served. Dinner was eaten, and yes, dinner was enjoyed.

Izmir Söğüş – Further Information

  • If you can put the fact that you’re eating brain out of your head, we highly recommend this addition. The texture is very soft and acts as a moistening agent for the sandwich. Think bread sauce.
  • We spoke to the waiter as best we could and he told us, proudly, that söğüş is famous in Izmir and all the meat is from sheep, not cows.
  • ACO is a chain throughout Izmir with some eateries in other areas of Turkey. The one we went to is on Kıbrıs Şehitler Caddesi in Alsancak.

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Turkey's For Life

Sunday 9th of September 2012

@ Erica (Irene): Yeah, we're pretty much up for trying most foods, really. I bet your husband knows söğüş being from Izmir. A lot of our Turkish friends have never heard of it before. :)

Erica (Irene)

Sunday 9th of September 2012

This looks good...but usually I pass on things like this. My husband eats and I just watch when in Turkey as he grew up on this food.. I'm not too adventurous when it comes to food......great pics.

Turkey's For Life

Thursday 6th of September 2012

@ Joy: Yeah, definitely give it a go. If you like that stuff, you'll love söğüş. And you won't have to scout too far in Izmir. We saw it everywhere, once we'd spotted the word. :)

Joy

Thursday 6th of September 2012

Hi guys, I'm meeting my husband in Izmir next weekend since he'll be there for work, so I'm interested in scouting out this foodie item. I've eaten head cheese in the US (a strange/tasty terrine made with the odd animal part such as tongue and cheek. And slowly-roasted beef cheeks are out of this world! So your söğüş can't be too far off for me. ;-)

Turkey's For Life

Tuesday 4th of September 2012

@ Ozlem: Well, if you've done the brain bit and enjoyed it, we reckon you'll be just fine with the tongue and the cheek!! :) Make sure you try söğüş next time you're in Izmir. you'll love it. Thanks so much for including us in your post about the south coast of Turkey. :)

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