Today at lunchtime, we made our way to Seyhan Kebap, the little Turkish place in Namba, just across from the Prefectural Gymnasium (where the Sumo tournaments are held in February). It was jam-packed (i.e., two of the three little counters against the walls were full), and a tall, white-haired, elderly, but fit-looking man was chatting with the cook in Turkish. A younger woman (his daughter?) wore a headscarf and chatted with the Japanese waitress in English. We ordered – me, my usual Iskender kebap (kebab meat with yogurt and tomatoes) and Mike the Dürüm kebap (marinated meat wrapped in pita). While we were waiting for the food, the old man came over (well, wheeled around – it isn’t a very large place) and struck up a conversation.
Seems he was from Izmir, on the Aegean sea, was a retired engineer and did sports commentary for Turkish television as a sort of hobby. Naturally, he was in town for the IAAF Championships (which I’ll be going to see on Friday night). His English had an elegant, old-fashioned tinge to it (what broadcasters used to call “mid-Atlantic,”: not quite British, not quite American, and favoured for decades by Canadian newsreaders). We asked him whether this place served authentic Turkish food. He allowed that it did, but more specifically Anatolian food, from the Asian interior of Turkey (what they used to call Asia Minor). The food from his part of Turkey used more fish and olive oil, and many cold bean dishes, “very healthy, most healthy food,” he said more than once.
Mike asked him whether the fires from Greece had spread into Turkey. He misheard: “Oh no, it’s not that bad, that’s just politicians stirring things up. There are ferries between Greece and my city, many Greeks come to Izmir for the shopping. We and the Greeks just go about our business.”
Our food arrived. He saw the Iskender Kebap, served with a spicy tomato soup: “now that’s a real Turkish lunch!” he said, approvingly. He thanked us for our time, and then resumed his chat with the owner, through the door to the kitchen.