A Peck of Peppers
Things do get lost in translation. But in this Turkish backwater, sailors end up with a lot more than they expected. People & Food from our October 2011 issue.
It was late March. We were on a monthlong exploration of the Greek islands and Turkey aboard Stressbuster, our Atlantic 70. Joining my husband, Kostas, and I were several friends, including Minnesotans Alan and Claudia. It was pouring rain. Again. Spring here, we were discovering, is wet.
We ghosted along the Gulf of Gökova in light winds, but the clouds looked threatening, so we tucked into a narrow bay called Gelibolu Buku. The Turkish Waters Pilot devotes one sentence to this place. It also warns that provisions in this area are scarce, but weather dictated stopping sooner rather than later, in a more populated town, for supplies. We were out of everything.
At the head of the bay was a marshy beach surrounded by woods, a small shack, and a dilapidated wooden dock. It didn’t look promising.
The dock was sturdier than it appeared; after Med-mooring, we ventured ashore. A sign outside the shack raised our hopes: “Waffle!” it proclaimed, listing beside it a string of offerings in Turkish. No market, but at least we’d have food!
“Hallo!” called a voice, and a smiling man emerged. Thus we met Jamal, who runs the little eatery during the spring and summer. Over Turkish tea, we sat in his plastic-enclosed haven and basked in woodstove heat. A basic kitchen flanked one side, with a small desk, a computer, and—lo and behold!—Internet access.
Jamal’s English was limited, as was our Turkish, but he indicated that we should return for dinner. Later, we were back, expecting “Waffle!” What we got was a multi-course, hours-long Turkish feast, served on olive-embossed place settings worthy of Martha Stewart.
We said we needed provisions and asked Jamal if there was a market nearby. He shook his head sadly, then brightened. “Write!” he decreed. “I go in morning.” Yippee!
Our glee diminished as we realized that we’d have to pen our shopping list in Turkish. So, in this unlikely spot, we did what millions of folks do daily: We Googled it. Proudly, we presented Jamal with our handiwork.
When I returned the next morning, all seemed in order until I opened the last, suspiciously large, sack.
“Omigod!!!” I hissed to Kostas so Jamal wouldn’t overhear. “Oh. My. God!”
Inside was Jamal’s interpretation of the “two green peppers” we’d put on our list: Two kilos—almost five pounds—of long, light-green beauties!
During the next two weeks, we used them in every conceivable concoction, including one of my own Greek favorites: feta-stuffed roasted peppers.
Despite our pepper-pummeled palates, everyone wanted more. As I served our final meal, Claudia quipped, “Great! Did you use all remaining 37 of them?” The answer was no—we still had peppers to spare at journey’s end.
They weren’t pickled, and Jamal was no Peter Piper. But sure as that old tongue twister goes, we’d ended up with nearly a peck of peppers.
Feta-Stuffed Roasted Peppers
6 long, mild, light-green peppers
8 ounces Greek feta cheese in brine
Juice of 1 small lemon
Black pepper, to taste
Balsamic vinegar, to taste
Remove stems and seeds from peppers. Lightly coat peppers and a sauté pan with olive oil. Pan-roast over medium heat until slightly browned. Remove from pan and place in paper bag; seal and set aside. Mash together feta, a bit of its brine, lemon juice, and pepper. Remove softened peppers from bag, stuff with feta mixture, and plate. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Garnish with lemon slices or parsley. Serves six as an appetizer.
Can be prepared: At anchor
Prep time: 45 minutes
Degree of difficulty: Easy