Some of our most memorable meals in Turkey were in family-run restaurants. In the village of Şirince (pronounced Shirin-je), not far from Ephesus, we walked through a large door, up some stairs, and into a courtyard with a verandah running around it. Tables were set out on the verandah, and we chose one looking out on the trees in the courtyard.
The restaurant was run by a young couple. One part of the house was given over to the restaurant, and they seemed to live in a part with a separate entrance, but looking over the same courtyard. My translator app was not needed very often because the lady spoke some English, and I’d managed to pick up enough words to make rough sense of the menu.
They had wonderful salads, with flavourful carrots and greens (that’s one nice thing about eating in a place with its own kitchen garden). I’d been missing salads, so I ordered another one made of pumpkin and walnut. For the mains we had ribs. We’d grown fond of gözleme (pronounced goez-li-may), which is something like a stuffed paratha. The Family adventurously ordered one with eggplant. This was surprisingly good.
The couple didn’t mind us watching them at work in the kitchen. The division of labour was interesting: the lady made the gözleme while the man frenched and grilled the ribs. There are hundreds of questions which rise in my mind, about methods and material, when I watch people cook. While we ate, a group of women, from a town, going by their looks, came in to eat. Listening to their easy chatter with the couple, I wished I’d known enough Turkish to be able to ask the questions which had come to mind while I’d watched the couple in the kitchen.
The day had started sunny but clouds gathered as we ate. There were even a few drops of rain. Our table got windy and cold, so for coffee we moved to a corner which was better protected. This part of the verandah had a bunch of photos on the wall: all of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Was this a family of staunch republicans? A hundred years of history has made everyone a republican. The lady was sharing work with the man, talking to customers, head uncovered.