How I found the only bad food in Turkey.
I write this with absolute rage clawing in my nauseous belly! In a land where you can have a fresh-caught fish, fried and spritzed with lemon juice and nestled in a soft baguette with tomatoes and crispy lettuce for THREE LIRA ($1.50), or half your own weight in cherries pregnant with juice for SIX LIRA ($3), or the biggest Turkish version of a burrito you’ve ever seen, with grilled chicken bits and tomatoes and cheese and onions and french fries stuffed into a chewy wrap for FOUR LIRA ($2), or a full-course meal of fried mussels, mixed salad, bread, and garpike while watching dolphins leap through the sea beside you for FIFTEEN LIRA ($7)–in a land where the “food of the gods” isn’t a myth but a daily must, I have made the worst food decision of my trip so far.
It’s a long bus ride from Çanakkale to Istanbul, it’s true, but it’s also just seven hours of sitting–nobody really needs to eat food at one of those pit stop tourist traps. But I was hungry, so I wandered into the lovely, air-conditioned cafeteria in the middle of nowhere, saw the array of Turkish lokanta (pre-made dishes you pick to put on your plate), and thought, “I want meat.”
Got a tiny bit of the Izmir köfte (which looked like your average, orgasmically delicious Turkish meatball), and some french fries on the side. Nothing fancy. I should have noticed the lack of price tags. I should have noticed the lack of actual Turkish people in line (damn deceptive foreigners). I should have noticed how this was the only place to eat for miles, and that they knew it.
I ended up paying 18 (surprise!) lira ($9?!!) at the counter for three fingers of meat that tasted like the under-arm-wing-flap of an elderly ewe and felt like it had been strained out of someone’s ass. The french fries crumbled like the dusty ruins of Troy in my bewildered mouth. I didn’t even know it was possible for Turkish food to be that horrible.
I am so spoiled. The average cost of a day’s delicious worth of food for my last three weeks has been about 10 lira ($5), if that. And with Turkey’s rich agriculture and meat industry, fruit fertility, and proximity to the sea, I’ve more or less “eaten local” for my entire stay so far at an incredibly kind price. But I’m telling you now, straight from my $9 lesson, never order food at a pit stop, unless your bus ride is so long you’ll starve. Actually no, humans can go a long time without food. So never.