I have not been posting for the past few days as I was busy meeting with suppliers, making hotel visits in Istanbul and generally enjoying and exploring the city. And then there was the journey home, broken in Toronto so I could visit with family for a day.

Now, it’s catch-up time with a very full agenda that includes writing an executive summary for a research project I have just completed, attending to client bookings, writing thank you notes to the warm and hospitable folks in Istanbul who made my trip so worthwhile, etc. And then there are the chores that await the returning traveller, such as unpacking and putting everything back in its place, laundry, review and filing of information obtained while away, sorting of business cards and the list goes on … oh, and then there’s the garden! It’s time to start planting, but before then, I have to do a little clean-up work and remove my kale trees (yes, they’re 6 feet tall now and in flower.)

Since I will be taking time to settle in, and probably won’t be posting for a day or two, here is a photo of a very special occasion: yours truly eating a street food loved by many Turks, kokorec!
My first encounter with barbequed sheep intestines

I had attended a lecture about Turkish cuisine last week when the topic of street food was discussed. I have tried almost all the street food and never had any health problems (simit, corn, chestnuts, doner kebaps, etc.). And I had definitely seen the sheeps intestines being grilled on the streets in Beyoglu, laid out in their full-length splendour on mobile grills. However, I had resisted any possible temptation to try them.

That evening, when I was at dinner with friends on the Asian side, they took me to Bagdat Street (which used to be the road to Baghdad). It is a wonderful area, with wide streets, luxury shopping and a very active night-life. We parked and walked to a small family-style restaurant where the menu had specialties that included tripe soup, liver and yes, kokorec! I was persuaded “just try a half portion” and so I bravely ordered the delicacy, fully expecting a big plate to accommodate the length of intestine. Instead, two coiled patties arrived, with fresh hot chilli pepper and tomatoes and of course, the customary basket of fresh bread.

Hesitating, I tried a bite and promptly ascwertained that it was not awful, but to my taste, not particularly tasty either. However, I smothered them with chili and herbs, and ate them both! When my hosts asked if I enjoyed it, I smiled and said it was not as I had expected … well, it was better than I had expected. And, after all, sausages are encased in sheep’s intestines… but empty ones!

I have since learned that if Turkey is to join the EU, they will not be able to serve kokorec (pronounced ko-ko-re-ch) any more. Hmmmm …..

Originally written by Brenda Farrell