Almost as soon as the plane leaves the tarmac, it’s as if a switch has been flicked. I feel my shoulders visibly relax and I let out an audible sigh. Life is just easier when we land the other side. On our annual trip to the UK I assimilate back into British life in a way I never felt I did living there, and have never yet felt living here. For G looking on, the most noticeable format this takes is the food stuffs I offer as meals. I lovingly remember one such trip when, late as always, I served toast (with jam) and tea (with milk) for breakfast. Arriving at my parents house a short while later, G complained I’d rushed him out without breakfast. As Mum offered him a hot slice of toast and my sister plonked a tea bag in a cup, G threw his head back and laughed.
I often fret that our kids will be the oddities in a class full of norms and in assimilating to Turkish life to reduce these quirks in our character, meals are and will always be my nemesis. To me, breakfast is an opener, lunch is half way and dinner is where you should eat. Porridge is a satisfying breakfast, soup and sandwich, lunch and dinner a one-course plus desert love affair. This isn’t quite in keeping with Turkish meals where breakfasts even weekdays could feed an army, lunch and dinner barely differ in quantity or quality and soup is as necessary as air is to breathe. Thankfully, breakfast aside, G isn’t typically Turkish and having once joked to a friend that he’d only marry if he found a woman to cook him chinese food, he delights in the round the world tour our kitchen takes our plates. Breakfasts I doubt I’ll ever make peace with, but finding my way through the culinary side of this country I live in is, unmistakably, a way for me to make it my homeland.
Turkish Fried Rice
Rice is to Turkish cuisine what potatoes are to British food but unlike potatoes which are best cooked up fresh, rice Turkish style is easily reheated, requiring a big pan just made once a week. Fried rice is the perfect meal to use up any leftovers and whilst we love an Asian twist to our meals, I often throw together this Turkified twist on fried rice as a way to use up the remaining fridge produce. Quick, nutritious, satisfying, it makes a wonderful meal for a family and a deliciously indulgent breakfast for a Brit.
Diced carrots, courgettes, peppers
Thinly sliced onions
Fresh herbs – dill, parsley, mint
A heafty pinch of allspice
In a pan with a little olive oil, cook the onions until they reach golden. Add the minced beef, turn up the heat to seal the meat quickly and then add the vegetables. Turn down the heat, cover the pan and cook for five minutes, adding a little water if it looks too dry. Once the vegetables are cooked, stir in the rice, first adding one cup, and then two, to ensure it mixes through evenly. Stir through the herbs and spices cover and leave for ten minutes before serving.
To add additional Turkish oomph to the meal, serve alongside bowls of cacik, a soup-style sauce – simply grate cucumbers into a bowl with chopped dill, stir through yoghurt mixed with finely ground garlic (to taste) and add ice cubes before serving.