First things first… A primer on simit, thanks to Wikipedia:
A simit (Turkish), Aramaic qeluro/qelora, koulouri (Greek: κουλούρι), or gevrek (Bulgarian: геврек) (the last one from “gevrek” in Turkish, meaning “crisp”, which is, in some parts of Turkey, colloquial to “simit”) is a circular bread with sesame seeds, very common in Turkey, as well as in Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and other parts of the Balkans and Middle East such as Lebanon. Simit’s size, crunchiness/chewiness, and other characteristics vary slightly by region. In the city of İzmir, simit is known as “gevrek,” (literally, ‘crisp’ in Turkish) although it is very similar to the Istanbul variety. Simits in Ankara, which is the capital of Turkey, are smaller and crispier than the ones in other cities.
Drinking Turkish tea with simit is the traditional way in Turkish culture. You can see many simit peddlers on the street. Those peddlers usually carry their simit trays on their heads. Simit is generally served plain, or for breakfast to tea with jelly, jam or cheese.
Simit and koulouri are often sold by street vendors, who either have a simit trolley or carry the simit in a tray on their head. Street merchants generally advertise simit as fresh (“Taze simit!”/”Taze gevrek!”) since they are baked throughout the day.
Simit is also known as “Turkish bagel” in the USA.
A type of bread very similar to simit is known in Poland as “obwarzanek”. The main difference is that the rings of dough are poached briefly in boiling water prior to baking (similarly to bagels), instead of being dipped in water and molasses syrup (although the end result is not sweet), as is the case with simit.
OK, now you know that simit (see image, left) is a wonderful, wonderful thing.
And I had two of them today. Although they were not the freshest (this is my last few hours in Istanbul so I figured it is now or never), they did the job. I am now a satisfied man.
Last night, we stayed in. I had a call with the U.S. at 7PM that would have been smack in the middle of a dinner engagement. My niece is 2 so it is tough to stay out beyond 7 or 8 PM anyway.
At dinner, we had some chicken, bulgur pilaf and salad. A tidy 400 calories or so. I finished the evening of with a full portion of quince… Quince (see image below, right) is a fruit that I overdo when I am in Turkey (since it is very difficult to get in the U.S. You can find them once in a while but they are usually tasteless… So far, I’ve had 3 quinces within the last 24 hours. With only 52 calories for a whole one, it is actually pretty darn good, filling food item).
This morning, I had quince and peanut butter for breakfast. And some yogurt. I was able to find some low fat plain yogurt at a grocery store nearby. It sucked. Nothing like the Fage. I miss Fage.
We then went to a mall called Istinye Park. It is the shit these days apparently… Everyone goes to Istinye Park (not quite sure why… It looks like any mall really). At least I got some good pictures…
We had lunch at a place called HouseCafe inside the mall. I had something called, Diet Chicken Salad, which was chicken marinated in low fat yogurt and flaxseed, then grilled. It was served on a bed of lettuce, walnuts and cranberries. It was decent and only 280 calories.
That was about it so far for the day. Three tantrums by the 2 year old so far today. There were quite a few more yesterday since she couldn’t take her nap during the day (due to some construction work nearby)… Realizing how unaccustomed I am to this. And how low my tolerance is – a byproduct of that unfamiliarity. While I love spending time with my brother and his family (including the niece, she is a bundle of fun when she is not throwing fits and 90% of the time she is fine), it is time for me to go back to what I know as normal. My plane leaves in about 15 hours.