February 4, 2012

4 Feb

ISTANBUL — The 360 Experience (continued)

Lesson #4:  Never leave anything up to the waiter.

One of the nights, we went to this restaurant where M&W both really wanted chicken curry.  M orders chicken curry, and our waiter is like “Ohhhh so sorry, no curry today.”  And M’s like, “Oh, do you have lamb curry instead?”  Waiter’s like, “No curry, sorry.”  But M was insistent and persistent, as she had learned on Day 1 that Turkish men respond well (i.e., fear) aggressive women with a strong voice – and M really wanted her fucking curry.  So the waiter feels bad and finally agrees, “Ok, ok I make curry, I go get curry for you.”

Sound sketchy?  It was.  Where was he going to “get this curry.”  I looked at M and shook my head.  What came out was definitely not chicken curry.  It was something like chicken skewers with some weird mustard sauce drizzled on top.  Improvising off the menu is not the way to go in this city.

That same night, I also made the mistake of leaving my menu up to the waiter.  I had been wanting to try some seafood for a few days now since apparently it’s amazing in Istanbul – really fresh, etc.  I asked the waiter which fish he recommended, and he told me either #105 or #111, which were turbot and lagos.  The English translation was there, but I had never heard of turbot or lagos before, so I told him that as long as it was white fish, I would be ok with it.

When my dinner comes out, along with M’s weird mustard chicken, the waiter goes, “This is SNAKE FISH” and makes a snake motion (elongated motion with his hands, that’s what she said).  The minute he said that, I nearly threw up.  What the fuck was snake fish, and why did I order this.  I look down at my plate, and not even Poverexia can get the image of a snake out of my head.  The fish just looks like one huge, fat eel, fried and chopped up into disgusting chunks.

Snake Fish

I took one bite out of courtesy, then immediately ordered some more yeni raki, which is the traditional Turkish ouzo-like, very strong licorice liquor, and drank that for my meal instead.

That night when we were back at our hotel, M&W were curious as to what exactly turbot and lagos were and which one was the snake fish.  We Googled it, only to find that turbot is a kind of flounder, and lagos is a type of grouper.  What?  I was confused.  So which one was snake fish???

After group contemplating for about 30 minutes, M&W and I came to the conclusion that basically the waiter gave me neither #105 nor #111 – instead, he was just fucking with me and gave me something totally different and disgusting instead.  M Googled snake fish, and here’s what I apparently ate:

Snakehead Fish

Lesson learned.  Never trust your waiters.

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