Let’s start off this way: Turkey is an incredible place. It is amazing. I’ve been to both Istanbul and Izmir (as a gateway to Ephesus) and read Sam’s recent piece about Cappadocia. There is so much history and culture there that one could dedicate an entire website just to Turkey. As a tourist, I have largely been unaware of the politics of the country, which are a bit ugly right now. Since starting The Royal Tour, I’ve been trying to pay a bit more attention to those things.
So this is NOT an endorsement of the country’s current leadership, their past transgressions (look up the Armenian Genocide), or their rocky relations with the US, Europe, the Kurds, or any other element with which I might sympathize. But neither is it an article about those things. Tonight, we are celebrating some of the positives about a country I haven’t seen since 2009 (I think) in the form of a date night. That’s all.
If you enjoy this post, check out all of our travel themed date nights!
Turkish-Themed Date Night
Eat: Lentil Soup; Lahmacun; and Kanafeh
While many countries have it, Turkish lentil soup might be the pinnacle. Blended fairly smooth with lentils, rice, and bulgar if you can find it, seasoned with dried mint, it is the perfect start to a meal celebrating the region. I like to make sure mine is thin enough to not be overly filling, since there is another course to come, though add a bit of creme fraiche on top of a thicker soup and it’s easily an entree in itself.
Lentil soup never looks appetizing but it’s one of my favorites!
Lahmacun (pronounced llama-JUNE) is basically Turkish pizza. In Turkey it’s a street food, eaten on the go, a crispy flat bread with ground lamb and spiced, folded up to make walking and eating easier. Tonight I cheated with a store-bought pizza dough, rolled out thinly. The topping consists of ground meat (beef in my case) with blended red and green peppers and tomatoes, plus spices. Ideally the meat layer would be thinner than I did it, but it was incredibly tasty!
Kanefeh is a Turkish dessert eaten around the holidays, and is actually a favorite Chanukah recipe among the country’s Jewish population, which was a nice coincidence for us before lighting our Menorah. Bottom and top layers of shredded phyllo dough (you can buy it pre-shredded on Amazon) and a middle mixture of ricotta and mozzarella cheese are sweetened by pouring an orange syrup over the top. Add some chopped pistachios and you have a truly awesome dessert. A, of course, made this portion. Division of labor and all.
Kanafeh on Chanukah plates
Learn: The History of Turkey in Ten Minutes
These dinner documentaries are one of my favorite parts of date nights. Ten minutes to explore the entire history of a country that has been populated for thousands of years is rough, and it barely touched on some fairly important things, but it was a solid intro nonetheless.
Immerse: 24 Hours in Istanbul
We brought out the Oculus tonight and found a lovely VR exploration of the basics of Istanbul. It even went inside the Blue Mosque, which was one of the highlights of my time there.
Explore: Istanbul and Cappadocia
AirPano has some really cool 360 degree shots of various places from the air. First we looked at Istanbul, one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Then we explored Cappadocia and its amazing rock formations. If these don’t make you yearn to visit Turkey, nothing will!
The Blue Mosque from the air
Watch: Resurrection: Ertugrul
This is a Turkish series on Netflix, set in crusader times. It’s in Turkish with subtitles. A bit of a throwback to Xena or Hercules, it features a warrior named Ertugrul. The fascinating part is having Christians be the bad guys, something we wouldn’t see in an American or European series. Would I keep watching it? Probably not, but it kept my attention for the first episode.
The costuming was great!
Turkey is a fascinating country, totally worth exploring via date night. I hope this inspires you to plan your own!
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