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March 2018



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Human Behavior, and Another Visit to Istambul

I have been practicing blinking at the cats. Closing your eyes and yawning when you make eye contact with a cat puts them at ease because it means that you don't think of them as prey or a threat. I find that I'm tending to do it with strangers on the street as well. And I think it has the same effect on humans. It unconsciously puts them at ease.

I have also noticed that a lot of people look like other people I know lately. I talked to my mom about it and she agreed that it might have to do with age. Because we have a larger catalog of what people look like we see more similarities. The bigger the sample the greater the chance of finding groups of similar traits. Everybody ends up looking a little bit like someone else.

Anyway, B took me to lunch at Istanbul today. We tried to go yesterday, but they were closed. I asked the waitress why they were closed. "Someone was irresponsible" she answered darkly.

They serve five Dürümler (Wraps)(Turkish for "roll") for lunch. Each wrap comes on a square of flat-bread with a pile of chopped greens, a smear of spicy paste, a small roasted bell pepper, a side of Cacik (yogurt and cucumber sauce), and a triangel of Turkish feta cheese. You get to choose from four meat options and one vegetarian option.

In the Middle East "kebab" (or "kabap") refers to meat that is cooked over or next to flames, usually on a skewer or spit, large pieces, small cubes, or ground meat mixed with spices and other ingredients.

Adana Dürüm: Adana kebap (kabob) is a mixture of minced lamb, beef, and spices packed on a long iron skewer and grilled on an open mangal (grill.) A sort of skinless sausage. It is named after Adana, the fifth largest city in Turkey.

Köfte Dürüm: Köfte is usually described as a Middle Eastern meat ball. In this case it is a couple of beef and lamb paties that are cooked on the grill. More like a grilled lamb hamburger. The origin of the word köfte is the Persian word کوفته kufteh meaning "mashed". Before people had meat grinders they minced meat to very small pieces and then mashed them in large mortars. Persian meatballs are called Kufteh in Persian as they are made from ground meat as well. Kofte is called Kubideh in Persian, which is another form of the word "Kufteh".

Döner Dürüm: döner kebap, lit. "rotating roast", or can be shortened to döner, lit. "turn around". It is a Turkish dish made of a large block of compressed meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, normally lamb but sometimes veal, beef, or chicken. The dish is also widely known by its Arabic name "shawarma" (from Turkish çevirme) or the Greek name "gyros".

Tavuk Dürüm: spiced cubed chicken.

Veggie Dürüm: spiced grilled eggplant and zucchini.

I had the Adana Dürüm. B had the Veggie Dürüm. He really only had one choice. They arrive unwrapped so you can see what is inside. I put on the Cacik sauce and crumbled the feta onto it before I tried to wrap it and eat it like a burrito. It fell apart on my and I followed B's example of eating it with my knife and fork. It tasted great. The spicy paste was not too much for me. I would have it again.

We also ordered the Turkish coffee. It comes in beautiful little cups with a matching sugar dish. I burned my tongue on mine and set it aside to cool. It was not very sweet. But it was not bitter at all so it didn't need a lot of sugar. When I got down to the traditional ground coffee sludge at the bottom of the cup (Turkish coffee is traditionally served with the grounds still in it) I swished it with a little water and drank it. It was not bitter at all. B said it was strong. I didn't notice that but it had some kind of top note that tasted bluish green. I would try it again. B took a picture of the coffee set. Next time I need to bring my camera.

It's a nice little restaurant that seems to attract a lot of neighborhood people wandering by.