All right. Everyone is always asking me what we wish we had here but can't find. I thought of another one. Vanilla beans. And by vanilla bean I don't mean white beans. I mean the actual vanilla bean. JB wanted it for his "apple quince pie" that he likes to make each Thanksgiving. None to be found in the Commissary.
So tonight we ventured to a Turkish grocery store. First, a side note. Turkish grocery carts. They are just not good. You wouldn't think fixed wheels in the back of the cart are very important until you try to push one of these. You end up pushing sideways the entire time. Not so easy to do. Another thing that you can't fully appreciate until you use something quite sub par.
We scoured every aisle of the store and didn't see any vanilla beans. That's my cue to confront a salesperson and try to speak in Turkish. Here we go: "Yardim edebilir misiniz?" (Can you help me?) Yes he can. I then ask for a "vanilya fasulye" (vanilla bean) and just like in the market on Sunday, we are lead to whitebeans like with the pinto and black beans. I guess "fasulye" is the wrong word, but I am just not sure what other word to use. A Turkish shopper approaches us and he speaks a bit of English. He offers to help. I explain what I want and he says to me, "We don't have those. This is Turkey you know." Ha. Okay. So no vanilla beans here. Period. End of story. We are done trying to find those. (We also had a conversation about where we are from in America which is very typical of any conversation we have with a Turk* who speaks English. They are such a friendly people and so interested in our lives.)
We leave Megros with a few Turkish beers and cheeses but no vanilla beans. Oh well.
We also leave with quite a few pinched cheeks. I really don't know what to do about the people who pinch the boys cheeks or want kisses. Every time we go out. Isaac and Elijah are simply not interested. Isaac likes to talk to people, but as soon as they go to pinch his cheeks or want a kiss, he gets quite upset. Elijah doesn't want to talk to them at all. I usually just encourage Isaac to say, "Hayir, teşekkür ederim -- no thank you." It's the only way I can try to tell the person that their advances are unwelcome without being rude.
I asked an English speaking Turk the other day if the Turkish kids tolerated the attention more than my kids. He said no. He said kids are kids. When they aren't in the mood, they aren't in the mood.
All right, but this blog has another point. So before I get too distracted in discussion of cultural differences, on to the big news of the night: McDonalds.
On our way to Megros, we pass a McDonalds with, miracle of all miracles, a play place. Isaac sees it before we do. Suddenly he is saying, "Old McDonalds. It's Old McDonalds Daddy. Mommy. It has a play place. I want to go to that play place. Old McDonalds." He's literally giddy.
We promise him we'll stop after we grocery shop. So we do.
I really am not a huge fan of McDonalds but I tell you what. There is something about it that just "fits." When you are in a place that everything feels different, it is a nice taste of "home." And since this was the first time the boys have played in a play place since we moved here, they were quite pumped.
One note about fast food here in Turkey (and I hear throughout the Middle East.) These are sort of "upscale." It isn't the "cheap" place to eat. It's a special treat. It's a pricey night out. Our meal cost us about $15USD. Relatively the same thing it would cost us in the States. This is expensive for Turkey. The Turks joining us for our meal are dressed well. They are very modern. People are on dates at McDonalds. Really.
Tonight was a special night for us too. Check out the pictures below to see why. You can also click here to see a video of our time out.
While Isaac has had ice cream before he has never had an ice cream cone. He was ecstatic. He went with me to the counter to order it. He said "please" and "thank you" in Turkish. He was thrilled.
We also tried the Turkish Apple Pies which have a much more "real" taste than the ones in the USA.
Isaac offered to share with Elijah but as usual, Elijah has no interest in sweets outside of lollipops. He just doesn't wan it. Crazy huh?!
Sure he was making a mess! But we were all having the greatest time. McDonalds. Vanilla ice cream. Apple pie! A small evening of America.
He had no idea what to do with the cone. He mostly just drank the ice cream out of it.
Please don't misunderstand this post. We are thrilled with the adventure of living in Turkey. We have no regrets. We like it here. We are enjoying learning a new culture and experiencing a new place. But sometimes, you just need a little taste of home to jump start you again. Tonight, that's what we got.
*While calling someone a "Turk" still feels a bit awkward to me, it is what people in Turkey want to be called. For some reason it feels like a derogatory word. But it's not. It's what you call someone who is from Turkey. Just like we call ourselves Americans. Just want to clarify that in case someone thought differently of me while I was writing. Anyone want to admit that it feels derogatory?