Edirne: Land O’ Liver

Posted on March 7, 2011

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When the weather gets cold, what’s better than fried liver and dried peppers? That’s exactly the kind of logic that drove my wife, our roommate Joey, Ömer, and me to hop on a bus from Istanbul and head northwest to Edirne right on the Greek and Bulgarian border.

As I write this post, the wind is howling through my apartment like I’m the sad little pig who chose to build his home out of straw. I may as well have the door open. Outside my balcony, it looks like a snow globe. I guess Elif Şafak was right when she wrote, “March is the month that doesn’t know where it belongs.” I don’t know where it belongs either, but I can think of a place to tell it to go. It was even colder when we arrived in Edirne.

I set out with this motley crew. From left to right: Ömer friend and Turkish guide extraordinaire, my inquisitive wife, and new friend, transient teacher and talented photographer Joey D. Stec.

Edirne was once known as Adrianapolis named after emperor Hadrian. Later, it became the capital of the Ottoman empire before Istanbul from 1365 to 1453. Visiting Edirne completed the Ottoman capital trifecta for Cari and I. They sure knew how to pick ’em. Edirne, Istanbul, and Bursa are all wonderful places to check out in Turkey.

In Edirne, we saw three spectacular mosques among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, we visited the Beyazit Madrasa an important school for the healing arts, and feasted on the local cuisine. It can all be done in a day’s trip from Istanbul. If you live here, there are NO EXCUSES. You must go.

We took a bus. That may have been only mistake. Although the busses are luxury and have TVs like on a jumbo jet, they aren’t extremely convienient. You end up changing busses and taxis so many times that you wish you had just taken the trains. I estimate that we changed vehicles about 8 times round trip. This is only a 3 hour drive. We are planning to go back in June to watch the famous oil wrestling competitions, and we will definately be renting a car or taking the train.

On the plus side, people get on the bus trying to sell stuff during the brief stops. Our wise guide made the right move and bought us a tray of dried fruit and Turkish delight. It’s for these crucial decisions that we needed him with us. Follow the example Hunter S. Thompson, and never go on a road trip without the guidance of a Dr. Gonzo type character.

The dried dates were delicious and the Turkish delight was fresh. I was hesitant to eat the dried figs as I think I have an allergy. Everytime I eat them my throat closes up. However, Ömer showed a cool insider’s trick: Open the fig like a sandwich and fill it with the Turkish delight. Presto! Now you have something crazy. Well, I had to try it. I can say that I recommend it as long as you don’t have an allergy.

It was bitterly cold in Edirne, and we were starving after our bus ride. Thankfully, Ömer new the best liver place in town. They treated us like celebrities bringing fresh tomatoes and cucumbers while we waited for the main course. When the main course finally came, it was no disappointment.

It was all about the liver. I had not eaten much liver before this trip, I am a fan now. Fresh delicious cow liver is now on my list of best food eaten in Turkey.

A cool thing about eating at Turkish restaurants is that you can request specific spices as long as you know the Turkish word. When eating liver just ask for “kimyon” which is cumin, and they will bring you a heaping helping free of charge.

On a side note, you can ask “kekik” which is oregano and the same thing is likely to happen. But I’m not suggesting that for liver.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another specialty in Edirne is the beautiful and dangerous dried peppers cooked in oil. Be careful, these guys will make you sweat no matter how cold it is.

After the meal concluded. My attorney advised that I cleanse my pallate with the traditional cloves. I’ve seen these at many restaurants. They are often in a bowl by the door as you leave alongside a limon cologne bottle. Ömer instructed me to take about three and chew slowly. I wish he had emphasized the SLOWLY part a little more. Not only did it cleanse my pallate, but it was like a tiny exorcism in my mouth. There were tears. It did the trick though. Amazingly, my breathe was fresh after eating liver, onions, and pickled peppers. To complete this culinary experience, a waiter baptised our hands with limon cologne as we headed back out into the cold.

Well, that was just our meal. There is so much to say about this city. I’ll post about the spectacular mosques and madrasa next.

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Posted in: Edirne