Wednesday, August 29, 2012



izmir is modern smyrna, famous then and now for figs and the sea and not to be confused with the smyrnas of georgia, tennessee, and delaware. in the category of good host countries, denmark and turkey rise to the top of the list. in the former, i sat down to dinner twice with people of only modest acquaintance and didn't get up again for 5 and 7 hours respectively, which brought tycho brahe to mind. in the latter, abundance is the sign of generosity, which is why we sat down in a formal living room on the outskirts of izmir to four bowls of this tomato soup filled with micro-okra. an agricultural specialty of izmir, micro-okra is more mucilaginously crunchy than regular old macro-okra. in the middle right, some yogurt covered in soured pomegranate molasses, a fine combination made even finer in application to okra and tomatoes: cooks take note.

in izmir, the appearance on the table of a platter of very small, thin dolmas indicates the end of the savoury courses, an occasion for dolour that can be assuaged by eating a dolma. i discovered that eating a dolma is a sign to the host that you want another. apparently, leftover dolmas are rare in izmir.

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