We start by joining Kadria in the kitchen, where she explains how to make rice the Turkish way. First you soak it in water for a few hours, then fry it in lots of oil and then boil it.
The method for making ayran, our drink, is a bit simpler. It's just yoghurt, water and salt to taste. Served chilled, it is very refreshing and pretty much similar to Indian lassi.
Dinner starts off with a white bean stew. As it turns out, the white beans have been brought over from Turkey, as have the olives, the laurel leaves and the wine leaves for the dolmas later on. Quite impressive. Kadria tells me many people bring back so much stuff from Turkey, they actually choose their airline according to how much baggage weight they allow!
Fatma brings out the dolmas with a special smile on her face. This is a real treat that takes quite a lot of work to prepare. The slightly bitter wine leaves are filled with sweet rice, raisins and pine nuts. Yum.
Kadria reminisces about her youth. We laugh about her stories while enjoying the delicious food. It is great to still have contact with her after all these years. Kadria has known me since I was thirteen and we always had fun drinking coffee together at work. I also remember presents of olives and a Turkish peasant blouse. The olives really came from her family owned olive orchard. Tonight's olives as well. I always find it amazing how people ever invented the way to prepare the raw olives. When you eat them fresh from the tree they are truly disgusting. You have to soak them in salt water for weeks to make them palatable.
The turkey, served with rice and sweet corn, is the third course. It is very tender, and even looks appetizing in the picture, don't you think? (I realized that taking the photos at an angle instead of straight from above helps...)
Though turkey was named after the country, the bird originally is from Mexico. In Turkish it is called hindi, because they thought it came from India! A bit confusing, huh? If you're interested in the linguistic details, click here.
The turkey is so good I even ask for an extra portion. By now, I am really stuffed. But there is more to come...puff pastry triangles, börek, filled with spinach. My stomach streches a little more and we head to the coach to recover. Fatma, who is very slender, shows me her belly. I put my hand on it and seriously, she seems to be three months pregnant! She swears that this is always the case after dinner, but that a short walk and a cigarette will make it disappear.
After flipping through some of the 42 Turkish channels Kadria receives through her satellite dish, that is exactly what we do. We head out into the cold and take a short walk through the neighbourhood. Chilled to the bone, we rush back in after ten minutes to a blissfully warm apartment. Time for our fifth course, a special dessert called aşure. Fatma shows me a Dutch cookbook with the recipe. Supposedly Noah made this dessert with all the ingredients he had left after landing on Mount Ararat. For those as ignorant as me; Ararat is were Noah landed after the Flood and it is the highest mountain in Turkey.
This dessert has a certain set of rules; it should be served in the month after February 9 and it has to consist of at least 7 ingredients. What's more, it should be served to at least 7 people. So Kadria will bring some to her friends the next day to comply with this rule.
To warm up even more, we end the evening with a cup of Senseo coffee, a Dutch touch after a thoroughly Turkish meal.