Saturday, 31 July 2010
The rent for the hamam was due today. I had been keeping the money at home and Mr Ayak would have collected it last night, or I would have taken it over to the hotel today.
However the General Manager decided that he wanted it yesterday. Mr A phoned me at 3pm to tell me. He couldn't get away, so I had to make the journey over on the bus. I caught the village bus at 4pm, then the Bodrum bus, arriving just after 5pm, and Mr A met me at the bus station. I handed over the money, and got on the next bus which set off at 5.15pm. After waiting half an hour for the village bus, I finally arrived home just before 7pm.
We hadn't managed to raise the entire amount for the rent, in fact we only just managed about two-thirds of it. But Mr A phoned later to say that everything was fine...as usual he won't go into details, but he sounded quite happy. And fortunately the grumpiness had disappeared and he seemed to be back to his normal pleasant self.
So...I am on an economy drive for the next few weeks, because there is absolutely no spare money at all, and I will just have to make do with whatever food I have in the freezer and cupboards.
There I was...making mercimek soup this morning....and lots of memories came flooding back.
I've always loved soup. When I was at school, and my grandparents were still alive, they lived just down the road from us. Monday night was soup night at my grandmother's house. I would call in after school. There would be my grandfather, sitting by the fire in his flat cap, polishing horse brasses. He was a groom in his younger days, and he had collected hundreds of horse brasses, and loved to see them gleaming.
My grandmother would be out in the kitchen re-heating the wonderful oxtail soup that she made every week. My grandfather and I would sit together eating this delicious soup from large earthenware bowls, with lots of chunky bread. It was the best soup I have ever had in my life. I've tried to make it myself, but I've never managed to make it like my grandmother did.
My mother made soup from leftover chicken bones and vegetables. I do the same. I always have chicken stock in cartons in the freezer, which is what I used for my mercimek soup this morning.
The Turks are a nation of soup eaters. There are soup kitchens dotted about in most towns, that stay open all night. When Mr Ayak and I first got together we travelled by bus along the south coast from Alanya to Bodrum, stopping off at different places for a few days. It was the end of summer, and we had decided to do this for a month or so, for me to see something of the country, and for us to decide where we would like to settle. There are several stops on the long bus journeys, to enable passengers to eat, and we always had soup. I almost always had mercimek, which would be served with a drizzle of hot melted butter on top and a sprinkling of red pepper, accompanied by a dish of fresh rocket, onions and hot peppers, lemon wedges and lots of bread.
When Mr Ayak and I lived in Side, Antalya, we worked for a tour agency. We worked exceptionally long hours. 16 hour days, 7 days a week, so we almost always visited a soup kitchen around 2am, before getting a few hours sleep.
And the Turks often eat soup for breakfast..something I found odd at first, but have got used to...and now enjoy.
There's nothing quite like a steaming bowl of soup in winter...but soup is very much an all-year-round food here...so in summer we just eat it warm rather than hot.
I rather enjoy economising. I like the challenge of making delicious meals from simple, cheap ingredients...and my love of soup means that this was the first thing I made today.
(My very simple recipe for mercimek soup can be found here)