I’ve come to understand that I’m a very food-motivated person. It shapes how I travel, the destinations I choose, and what I bring home, which invariably includes some sort of herb, spice, or cooking instrument. I vividly remember the smell of the red pepper and cumin seeds from our favorite Beijing chuan(r) restaurant that made the flames dance and our mouths water. When I think of Paris, the heady, salty smell of poulet à l’estragon twirling on spits at my local farmers’ market is one of the first things that comes to mind. I remember biting into a piece of aarull, dried on the roof of our host family’s ger in Mongolia and wishing desperately that I had the language skills to ask more about it. And, the first time I tried durian — wooh, my! These are the things that burn into my memory and make me ache for a place.
Turkey was yet another adventure in tastes and smells and a riot of color. The bright reds of tomatoes and spice pastes, bright greens of grilled peppers and pistachios, deep purple pickled cabbage and charred eggplants. Big mezze spreads with pillowy, seeded bread gave way to steaming plates of kebabs and grilled vegetables. It was a delicious couple of weeks.