Tag Archives: culture

Mixing it up

We have not done anything food related for a while. so.  Time to correct this.

We have a load of basil growing in pots.  Far more than we can eat or give away, and the locals do not seem keen on the idea of using it in food.  It is not the Italian variety, but a local broad leaved one, just as tasty but a little less sweet.  Ashley thought it a good idea to make pesto.  Pesto can of course be made with many things, here it gets called ezme whether made with basil and pine nuts, or black olives.  Tapenade = olive ezme.  Pesto = green ezme, or herb ezme, or something else similar.  A Mexican habenero salsa would probably be chilli ezme.    I am sure you get the idea.  Anyway, I digress.

Back to pesto.  Pine nuts are expensive.  So we hit on the idea of using pumpkin kernels.  Sunflower seeds were also considered but the local Migros did not have any and other options  were closed for bayram, so pumpkin kernels it was.  We briefly considered grinding the kernels and basil by hand, it is hot, 36C hot, grinding stuff by hand, no, way too much sweat and effort.  So the huge pile of basil leaves went into in a pot, along with loads of pumpkin kernels and olive oil, and out came the hand blender.  Blend, taste, blend, add more oil, a little salt, a few more kernels.  Blend, taste.  Until it seems right.

Adding cheese was considered, but, we had no Parmesan, and cheese can always be added at point of use.  Talking of point of use, and the theme of mixing things up, today we went out and bought some manti.  Manti is sometimes called Turkish ravioli.  It is little pinched together pieces of pasta with a filling, so yes, much like tiny ravioli.  Commonly in Turkey it is served topped with yoghurt and flavoured oil, which is of course delicious.

So we cooked manti, it is easy enough simply drop it in boiling water for 5 minutes.  Then we spooned over some of the home made pesto and pieces of local goat cheese, turned it all very gently to coat all the manti, and served.  Delicious. Perfect with a salad of tomatoes dressed in oil and balsamic vinegar.

Ashley adds. I need to learn to make pasta.  So many different fillings and sauces.  So many options to mix things up.  Ravioli, Manti, Dim Sum, Gyoza,

Enjoying the Arts

Piano Recital

Meanwhile back home in Turkey, we will have more to say on Kerkini and Greece later.

June is our time for the Arts scene here in Selçuk.  It is the International Izmir Festival.  Some events are always staged locally, which means in Ephesus.  This year, two concerts in front of the Library of Celsus and one in the Odeon, (upper theatre) so sadly none in the great theatre, but no matter, these make for great nights out.

It is all a bit haphazard with semi random seating, we never get tickets with seats next to each other, but as long as we sit in the right block it is all fine.

So this year we have a Piano recital, mostly Chopin and Debussy, a chamber orchestra doing Bartok and Liszt, and an Italian Ensemble.  The recital was interesting, and was a lovely evening with friends and a bottle of wine.  We still have the other two to look forward to.

There are also events in Izmir and elsewhere, but concerts in Ephesus are just wow.  More details can be found at    http://www.iksev.org/en


Carmina Burana at Ephesus Theatre


The opportunity to see any performance in the great theatre at Ephesus is not to be missed and, on Friday night, the Izmir State Orchestra were giving a grand finale performance of Carmina Burana.  Not, perhaps, our first choice of music, but a great chance for the artists to showcase their talents.

We walked to the venue, breaking our journey with a pre-theatre dinner of gözleme at Seven Sleepers.  Then, once we approached Ephesus, it became apparent that the event would be very well attended.  The carpark was even more packed than it is when four cruise ships are in Kuşadası at the same time.  People were having to park on the approach roads.

The site itself was lit up and we were swept along with the crowd – the atmosphere was festive and electric – much as it must have been in the city’s heyday.  Once we got to the theatre we found plenty of people we recognised and, much to our surprise, managed to find our friends in the crowd.

The theatre has a capacity of over 20,000 seats and, although the top part is inaccessible, it is still able to seat a great many people.  We couldn’t estimate how many were there, but it did seem like ‘an awful lot of people’.   Many of whom were watching through their phones or tablets or other handheld devices.  At least, we think, most people silenced their phones and the many children present were well-behaved.  Many of them fell asleep…

The performance started with speeches and a minute’s silence for the victims of Soma mine disaster.  The acoustics are remarkable – we heard every note in great detail.  And the atmosphere was… incomparable.

Camel Wrestling – Fun in the Sun

Last year it was cold, the ground muddy.  I remember my feet getting freezing cold, but at least it was not raining.  This year Selçuk Camel Wrestling Festival took place in glorious warm sunshine, unseasonably warm perhaps but we are not complaining and neither were the large crowds out for having a good time.  A good time seemed to include drinking vast amounts of rakı, outdoor cooking, gambling, dancing and music.  It was all very loud, colourful, entertaining, chaotic, good natured, and great fun.

It is almost impossible to convey the sights, sounds and smells of camel wrestling in words.  The cheering is very loud, the music louder, the commentary often barely audible.  The smells of camels, barbeques (both commercial and personal), rakı and people packed tightly together.


The best dressed camel…..?

It is quite hard to imagine the concept of the most beautiful and best dressed camel.  No matter what the added finery, garters and all, they are not exactly going to the ball.  The following day they will be off to Pamucak for the camel wrestling, but on market day it was the best dressed camel competition.  We have no idea which camel won or what the standards for judging are, but as ever when camels are about there was much excitement, playing of drums and wind instruments as loudly as possible, and freshly cooked sucuk.

Current Events

We are sure many, if not all, reading this are aware of recent events in Turkey.

The news here has been sporadic at times, often better reported on BBC and Al Jazeera.  We also have local and national coverage of varying quality, and of course there is the social media.  When it started Facebook was behaving very oddly, but this seems to have stopped.

We have friends and others here who have written about events, posted about events, shared events.  Some of these are Turkish, some not.  We are not going to comment at length, we are not going to make judgements.  Obviously it is concerning to see the events, to see images of the injured.

There have been protests here in Selçuk.  These seem to have been peaceful, with no significant police presence.

We would express the hope that all protests pass off peacefully and that restraint be exercised.  We are saddened and concerned to see and hear that violence continues against protests which even some in the government seem to suggest are legitimate.

Selçuk Camel Wrestling Festival

Sunday 20th January.  Loud, brash and a lot of fun.  We took lots of photos.

Winter is Coming

Our preparations for winter are falling into place, and given the recent and rather sudden drop in temperature just in time.

We got a local electrician to sort our TV.  They left us their contact details some months ago when they came to install our Digiturk (TV) system.  Thanks to their extremely efficient and reasonably priced service the dish now has a double cable, one to the front and one to the back.  All we need to do is disconnect, move, and reconnect the digiturk box depending on where we want to watch TV.  Now, when winter arrives we can sit snugly in the front house and have loads of channels, most of which we never watch.  Seems sensible…  CSI every evening if we want….  We also have loads of DVD’s to help the cold nights pass.  We picked up the Borgias series 2 and Game of Thrones series 1 on our trip to the UK, eye candy for the long dark nights.

We needed to get a plumber to do a couple of tasks, a tap that did not work and a new cistern along with the parts that fit inside.  We made use of a contact from a friend, a plumber she said was good.  It turned out that we could not just replace the cistern, we would need a completely new toilet.  The work is now done, he was efficient and very good value.

We need to get antifreeze put into the solar water system.  A member of the family across the road from us works for a solar power installation company, so we’ll ask them to do it.  We’ll probably get charged much the same – it is not expensive, and at least the money will go locally.

We need to get a glazier to fit a new window pane.  A pane in a double glazing unit is cracked.  Again, an old friend should be able to help, she is married to someone who installs double glazing.  Not exactly the same but they will know someone who can fit new glass into a double glazing unit.

We have a little over metric tonne of firewood stored away.  Thanks to friends who helped us last winter we know where to get good quality firewood.  Our neighbours say we should get some coal because it is more economical, burns slower and hotter.  There seems to be mixed feelings about using coal, not everyone seems to think it is a good idea.  We shall look into this, see what options there are and how good the coal is.  We can order coal from the same people who deliver our calor gas and drinking water.  They recognise our phone number and know where we live.

There is a theme – Personal contacts.  Having a relationship with people who provide a service is very much how things are done here.  We are gradually building up our lists of contacts, builders, carpenter, electrician and so forth.  There has been a certain amount of trial and error, last year at first we initially bought wood which was not so good, we were very much new to it all and learning our way.  (Oddly those same guys bought wood round to us this year, having assumed we would buy it – we didn’t).  We still are learning our way but we are getting better at it and much less reliant on others to point us in the right direction.  Hopefully we will, someday, be in a position to help others as we have been helped ourselves.

Spectacular Service

I was wandering around Soke market with Hilary and a friend when a lens fell out of my glasses. Fortunately I managed to find the lens before it got walked on.  By feel I gathered that a screw had fallen out of the frame.  This is pretty serious because without glasses I cannot see very well, I can see fine at a distance but not close, in a crowded market everything was close.  To make matters worse we were about to go to a restaurant and we had no idea where a local optician might be found.

The restaurant we were going to was a fixed menu place so I knew what the food would be – not that I would be able to see it clearly.  Eating might be a little messy but I guessed I could probably cope.  Our friend explained to the waiter what had happened and immediately my glasses were rushed off to be repaired.  I was a bit anxious about this, I am quite dependent on my expensive high tech eyewear – shatterproof, polycarbonate, varifocal, antiglare, transition lenses mounted in flexon frame, all necessary in my view because I use them when riding the bike.

Less than 10 minutes later  and before the main course had arrived they were returned to me, not only was the lens fitted and the screws all tightened, the slight distortion in the frames had been corrected as well.  I was seriously impressed.  Not the usual sort of service from a waiter in a restaurant – would never happen in the UK.  Experiences like this are part of what is so amazing about living in Turkey.


A few months ago we tried on the offchance to get a Műzekart and were politely told by the staff at Selçuk museum that only Turkish Citizens were entitled to one.  More recently we heard this rule had changed and a friend of ours had managed to get one.  Currently there is no indication of this rule change on the Műzekart web site which still states that applications from non-Citizens will be refused.  More helpfully the website lists many of the places where a Műzekart can be used, it is not a complete list, and there are some exceptions which are clearly listed. All the exceptions are areas within sites where you have to pay extra in any case (e.g. the Harem at Topkapi and the Terraced Houses at Ephesus).

With this potential change of rules in mind we walked into the museum in Selçuk and asked, expecting to have to try to explain there is a new law which means that people with a residence permit and kimlik numbers are now entitled to one.  We were pleasantly surprised, not only were the staff aware of the new rules but knew exactly what needed to be provided.  We were asked for Kimlik Numbers and Residence Permits, and paid 30 lira each.  No photographs were required, the photos in our Residence Permits were scanned and used for the card.  There are no forms to fill out, everything instead entered onto computer.  Our local mobile number was taken and it was explained we may be called for security reasons, so we guess having a local phone number may be necessary.  The whole process took less than 5 minutes.

To summarise, what you need:-
Residence Permit
Kimlik Number
30 Lira
Contact telephone number

The cards are valid for one year and give free entry into virtually every museum and archaeological site in Turkey under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. For us, this represents a significant saving. We will be making a great deal of use of these.