*Warning to those on a diet, this post may be hazardous to your mental state!
Most of the passed month, I’ve been eating from other people’s kitchens in Budapest, and along the Danube to Istanbul! I’ll be writing about some of that, hopefully not so much you will be bored, but for now I’m back in my own familiar surroundings preparing very simple meals to recover from ‘travel tummy’! The problem with eating very cleanly and healthily at home is that when you travel it is very hard to replicate. And then there are the temptations…
‘Travel tummy’ is different than Bali belly!! Now returned to normal, I have learned my tolerance for certain foods, combined with summer heat, is even lower than I had thought. So, future efforts will have to be more restrained, which of course means passing up certain flavours one would love to experience when travelling… like tasting Turkish Delight while IN Turkey!! While it was very interesting to see all the amazing varieties that come under the umbrella of ‘Turkish Delight’, I was shocked that in my new incarnation of eating almost no sugar for all of this year, they were way too sweet for me. So I did taste them, but they were so sweet there was certainly no temptation to overindulge.
The Baklava in Turkey was amazing. It was incredible to see, as much as eat, though, again, it was really way too sweet for me to enjoy. I had never tasted Baklava until I moved to Australia 31 years ago. The Greek community in Darwin meant that it was fairly available in cafés, as well as occasionally offered from the Greek family across the street from our house. I used to love it. But now, I taste it more in the spirit of research, than passion. (That’s my story and I’m sticking with it!)
The one indulgence that I will forever remember was from the kitchen of the Sofitel Hotel in Budapest. Croissant. And fresh butter. No, croissant is not on my menu normally. In fact I guess you could call me a croissant snob. I declared to my husband a year or so ago that I would not be eating another croissant unless we were in France, where they are quite obviously a level above any others I’ve tasted. But I could tell from one look, these were special. They were the kind one only finds in France, or a French owned hotel like Sofitel. They were small, perfectly flaky, buttery miracles. So yes, I ate one. Okay, two—but not on the same morning. Such restraint. With stunningly fresh butter. I savoured every mouthful, and I swear a little tear escaped my eye the day we boarded the ship and left the Sofitel buffet!
Two of the most outstanding dining experiences were possibly the most humble. On our second night in Budapest we found a little place that specialised in Hungarian food. Not so unusual, you might think. However, their menu offered a few different ways you could eat, or sample, the selections. You could order a fixed menu consisting of several courses, all in small servings. You could order the same dishes individually, a la carte, as small servings, or as regular sized servings. We seldom want a large evening meal so the a la carte small servings of a couple of dishes suited us perfectly. And the dishes we had were absolutely delicious! We marvelled at what a good concept this was and wonder why we have never before seen a place like it. (excluding Tapas, which is something different again)
The other beautifully simple meal was in Turkey, in the small town of Gelibolu (Gallipoli). We ate next to the water and had simple grilled squid, with babaghanouj (grilled eggplant), and grilled fish. Delicious. Since we returned home, I have twice replicated the babaghanouj, and that is without having a recipe. It was that simple. We discovered the secret is, a little tiny bit of salt, and only the tiniest hint of garlic. I have always found baba ganoush recipes called for so much garlic, it was inedible for me (I have sensitivity to onion and garlic family). But the ones we ate in Turkey, in four or five different places, were always very, very lightly flavoured as I have described above. It allows the buttery, mellow flavour of the eggplant to dominate, which we loved. (in the interest of giving value for money, click here for my version of grilled eggplant)
I hope this gastronomic tour will appease your desire for IMK from me this month. I assure you it is more interesting than my own very simple cooking has been. Thank you to Celia at figjamandlimecordial.com for hosting this monthly tour through kitchens around the world! Pop on over there and see what other interesting things are happening.