I’m not one to write about politics. I suppose the subject makes me feel a little bit awkward, just because I think other people will always know more than me on the subject. In a group of people, when a political conversation comes up and my opinion is waiting to be heard, I usually repeat whilst rewording what the previous person said but accentuate their point of view with a louder and more convincing voice, often using hand gestures to re-express their opinion in a confident manner. Some see this as clarifying my understanding of the chosen debate but others view it as a politically motivated individual passionately discussing complicated issues.
That is why I prefer to write about food. Food is not as controversial as politics. Of course, there are quite a few people who get rowdy about whether an avocado is a fruit or a vegetable, but these misunderstandings are efficiently resolved with a quick google-ing.
Last week, I went to Istanbul, a city I have wanted to visit for a long time, mainly after watching Yotam Ottolenghi’s videos on Mediterranean cuisine. However, before leaving I was anxious since I had seen many terrifying photos of protestors being beaten up by the Turkish police.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I'm not going to get in the politics of it all, since anyone who was slightly up to date with the news would know what was going on. (And plus, its almost "old" news now...) The protest started by activists camping in Taksim's Gezi park against the demolition of the park for the construction of shopping mall. The protest then developed into riots when the police attacked with tear gas and water canons. Fortunately enough, we visited Taksim square the days and evenings that it was safe. It was amazing to experience the atmosphere in the park.
It was like we were at a festival, people were dancing, singing and music was being played. But the most impressive thing was the amount of street food that was being sold. From people selling rice stuffed mussels to barbecued meat, fresh watermelon, chargrilled corn on the cob, roasted chestnuts, freshly baked bread and pretzels, as well as popcorn and lollipops made there and then.
When I first saw these mussels being sold everywhere in the streets of Istanbul, I thought that they were just ordinary mussels, as you would expect from looking at them. Then, I saw a young girl of about twelve years old rush over to the mussel man, (he who was selling the mussels) and eagerly buy one. I thought this was an extremely bizarre snack for a child to have. When I was a child, my mum would give us 'pain et du chocolat' (a chocolate bar in a baguette) as a post-school snack, so my surprise seeing a child gollop down a mussel brought my curiosity to risk a bad stomach.
These mussels are individually stuffed with rice and served with a squeeze of lemon juice, an absolutely delicious early evening snack.
Then I need to show you these Turkish lollipops which are made with different coloured sugar syrup artistically swivelled on a stick. Absolutely stunning.
All photos by Abigail Scheuer (www.abigailsdinnerparty.blogspot.com) and Jacopo Primus, with special thanks.