Friday, August 10, 2012

Part of being in a foreign country means embracing new traditions.

Since we’ve been living in Istanbul, I’ve always taken part in an least one iftar meal during Ramazan.

Iftar means “breaking the fast” which occurs each evening during Ramazan, often with a large meal with family and friends. In most Muslim countries, it is quite common to have feasts that last all night and run from iftar to suhur “the morning meal” before dawn.

Restaurants are packed here around 8 p.m. every night as people wait to hear the call to prayer letting them know it’s time to celebrate iftar.

I have a lot of respect for anyone who is fasting during this hot summer. I can’t imagine it’s an easy task to do, especially not being able to drink water either. I’m always buying water bottles from the street vendors while I’m out and about.

Last week, I met 12 friends through the Professional American Women of Istanbul (PAWI) and the American Women of Istanbul at İTÜ Vakıftepe Sosyal Tesisleri in Baltalimanı, a neighborhood near Emirgan. The restaurant was offering a special set menu for Ramazan for 40 TL and featured an amazing view of the Bosphorus and the second bridge.
The fabulous view from Vakıftepe Sosyal Tesisleri in Baltalimanı in Istanbul with a full moon  coming up in the background.
We waited until about 8:30 p.m. to eat with the rest of the Turks. Then, we each started with an individual plate of iftariyelikler, which included zeytin (olives), pastırma, sucuk, domates (tomatoes), salatalık (cucumbers), peynir (cheese) as well as various toppings for the pide.
Next, we had a salad and lentil soup followed by a traditional chicken or beef güveç.
Gotta love Turkish lentil soup no matter what season it is!
For dessert, we had güllaç – a traditional Ramazan dessert of milky layers of yufka sheets, lightly rose scented. By this point, it was too dark to take any decent photos.

Celebrating an iftar meal with my American friends and enjoying the spectacular view was certainly a great way to spend a night.

Ideally, I would have brought my tripod to take better photos of the lit-up bridge in Istanbul.
The Turkish flag at dusk on the restaurant's grounds. Looks like it's a great place for weddings and other special occasions.

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Julia said...

Wow, you weren't joking about those fab views. Lovely!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i want to make that lentil soup! beautiful photos!

Joy said...

@Julia, yep great views and moderate prices. I should go back to see how the normal menu is. ;-)

@Joyce, Mercimek soup here is always good. I posted a recipe for my version awhile back. :-)

Karen said...

I love the excitement as 8ish approaches and everyone is rushing toward their restaurant of choice. What a wonderful excuse to break bread with others all month. My American dinner hour is getting pushed farther and farther back so that I can celebrate with my Turkish friends. Sometimes I just eat twice!

Joy said...

@Karen, I've enjoyed this time and like hearing all the families talking, eating and cay glasses clinking together as I walk through the neighborhood. How funny to eat twice! ;-)