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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

GAWA Day #29: My Best Turkish Lunch

My lunch at Beyti, specializing in roasted meat, will be my dining highlight of my stop in Istanbul.  The founder is Beyti Guler (left), a member of Chaine des Rotisseurs, to which I also belong.  This is a large restaurant with 500 seats specializing in Turkish cuisine. Four decades ago they served President Richard Nixon on Air Force One during his first official trip to Europe, putting Turkish kebap (or kebab or kabob or kebob or kebab) on the map.  Definitely Turkish, because it was mentioned in a 1377 script.

Let me, though, first provide some insights about Turkey, then, at the end, report on my lunch at Beyti.  But where do I begin?

Well, the Republic of Turkey is a parliamentary republic in Eurasia.  It is bordered by eight countries, including Syria, Iraq and Iran.  How much fun would we have if we had these neighbors.  People have lived here since the Paleolithic Age, which extends back to 2.6 million years ago and ended in 10,000 BC.  

Alexander the Great (left), who was tutored by Aristotle, conquered this region in circa 350 BC.  You might remember the 1956 movie with Richard Burton.  I've never seen so low a score before, but Rotten Tomatoes reviewers gave this film a 0% rating.  Constantine the Great (right) arrived in AD 324 (you can scroll down to the next article for details).

A millennium later came the Ottomans, there is the reign of Suleiman the Magnificent, and Mustafa Kemal beginning in 1919 established modern Turkey, becoming the first president in 1923.  Ataturk (Father of the Turks) was bestowed on him by the Turkish Parliament in 1934, and legally, no one else can ever use that name.  

The Mustafa Kemal Ataturk International Airport is close by my hotel.  Unbelievably, the country has 98 airports, with 22 being international.  Watch out Dubai, Istanbul is planning for the largest airport in the world.  Skytrax has selected Turkish Airlines as the best in Europe for the past five years.

Turkey is slightly larger than the State of Texas.  While there is potential, oil and gas revenues are minimal.   The country imports 72% of energy used and is building three nuclear power plants.  They stand #5 in the use of geothermal energy.  However, a news article today indicated that solar investments have dropped 80% since 2008.  Which makes no sense to me, as here is the track record of solar PV:
Solar PV deployment in MWp      
Turkey has joined the 146 countries committed to the Paris global warming agreement COP21, to occur in December.  Can you believe the Kyoto Protocol was in 1997, 18 years ago?  The only nations not ratifying that treaty were Afghanistan, Sudan and....tada...the USA!

There are 75 million people living in Turkey, 99% Muslims, and 90% Sunni.  However, there is no national religion, as such.  Istanbul, with 14 million, has the highest population of any city in Europe.  With Turkish ethnicity being close to 75% and Kurds close to 25%, there is a natural enmity.  More Syrian migrants, 2.2 million, have been admitted than to anywhere else.

Turkey joined NATO in 1952.  The current president is Tayyip Erdogan.  This is a country in turmoil, being pulled in all directions because of its geography and politics.  A snap general election has been called for 1 November 2015.  The Cold War made Turkey and U.S. partners in the region.

Of all the Muslims, slightly more than 10% are Shiite (Shia), while slightly less than 90% Sunni.  This ratio also holds for Muslims in the U.S.  The Sunni/Shia ratio largely explains who cooperates with whom:

Well, enough of that.  I had an excellent and relaxed lunch at Beyti:

The entryway is like a museum.  English communication was not the best, but I essentially ordered a green salad, some kind of spinach dish, and, I thought four kinds of meats, with a Cabernet and a Chardonnay:

The salad was fine, the spinach not to my liking.  At this point, I was mildly concerned, for 45 minutes into my meal, I was still the only customer in a 500 seat restaurant.

But there were almost a dozen waiters with white dinner jackets and black bow ties waiting, so I just hoped I didn't miss that terrorist warning, and certainly didn't see any board of health alert on the outside.  People here must have late lunches, for I showed up at 11:30.

Next came some thinly sliced lamb, the kind you see hanging on a whole leg in the fast food stands:

As I was completing this dish, it occurred to me that this was it and I finally succeeded in having a light lunch.  Then came a second meat, either beef or lamb with mashed potatoes:

I asked the waiter what kind of meat, and he said beef or lamb.  I guess communications failed.  I actually wasn't sure myself.  The next was a Turkish kebap of beef or lamb:

Finally, a steak with an exceptional spinach, buttery and tasty:

I was quite filled, but had to order a baklava, for the origin was Ottoman Turkey, with a Turkish coffee:

I actually ate the whole thing.  The total cost for two wines, an appetizer, salad, four meats with various sides, dessert and coffee added up to $75, including tax and tip.  Beyti is an excellent value.  This was my best Turkish lunch, possibly because this might have been my first Turkish lunch.  Perhaps 20% of the seats were filled when I left at 1:30PM.

Let me add that the Mesopotamian Crow is prominent here, and there are flowers:

Tomorrow, I'm off for Venice.

Tropical Storm Nora should not affect Hawaii.  However, Tropical Storm Koppu will be become a Category 4 typhoon and pass right over northern Philippines:


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