A hefty portion of Istanbul's thrill is its delectable food.
We ventured out one night to a seafood restaurant mentioned by several guidebooks and later, even by our Turkish cooking class. (More on that later!)
The restaurant is high enough up that you can see the city skyline, shaped by the elegant minarets of the mosques, and the sea in the distance. Fresh fish are displayed in a glass case, and the waiter will tell you what's what. But the real attraction, according to everything we had read, was the meze spread. Mezes are like appetizers or tapas, lined up in a row, displayed for the entire dining room.
Like, oh, an American buffet. Right?
So we thought.
We ordered wine, picked up our plates, and set out for the mezes. Like any good American taster, I scooped up a little of this, a dab of that. After all, you have to first figure out what you like, and then go back for the best stuff, right?
Here's Ron's selection. I think you can make out yogurt, a zucchini-like fried cake, roasted red bell pepper, shrimp. Nicely done.
I varied my plate a little. Do you see anything amiss?
Smack dab in the middle? That's a big ole shrimp. A raw shrimp.
Who puts out raw shrimp?
Apparently, restaurants who do not expect customers to serve themselves.
Our waiter swiftly appeared and plucked the offending object from my plate. He tried to explain: Apparently, we were supposed to go with him to the spread and point at what we wanted. He would cook the shrimp now.
I was mortified.
But as it turned out, though the fish we ordered later was delicious, and all the meze was good, the very best taste of the entire dinner was: that lone cooked-on-the-spot shrimp.