Archive for January, 2014
Picked these branches up after a visit to Cup of Joy in Bebek today. My taxi driver asked if they were for him — Hadi Canim! Anyway these branches are kind of reminiscent of calligraphy to me, rather like a floral love note from a Geisha, or at the very least a dog-eared postcard from a long lost girlfriend in Japan in spring when the streets are carpeted with petals. Ahh … spring. Wish I could take you all there. In any case, think of this as an early Valentine to all of MYPHILOSOFIA’s faithful followers. Thank you for sticking with me over the last two years. You’re every bit as beautiful to me.
Ever get the feeling that nature speaks in codes? This won’t come as a surprise to those who know me, but … I do. Especially when it comes to foods. That’s why I think our dietary needs are colour coded to tell us in which season they’d be most useful. Take yellow for instance. During flu season, I think of nature’s golden gifts. Whether it’s a lush, saturated orange-yellow as in Turmeric (both the dry, powdered form or fresh root) lemon, honey, ginger, all of which have powerful healing and health-preserving properties. It’s almost as if these naturally occurring colours provide the kind of stored-up sunshine we miss during the wan winter months when the light turns pale and washed out. Notice how the turmeric roots stain the wood? Call me crazy but the alchemist in me thinks of that as edible sunshine, my friends. Eat it up.
Don’t know about you, but I like a good door. This one was particularly appealing as I passed it by in a Sultanahmet han today. I like the patina of rust over the chipped green paint. I like the way it’s ramshackle and yet still locked up. I like the fact it’s all gone slightly off kilter with age (I can relate). And I really like the way the cats seemed to keep a lookout from it, slipping through the narrow gap at the bottom with their semi-liquid bodies. This unpretentious entrance is kind of grand.
In Istanbul it’s increasingly difficult to remember that our world isn’t comprised entirely of concrete and glass. Luckily this city has a few surprises left in store. One of which is only a few hundred meters from Haci Osman Metro station. Rough and unkept, unlike Emirgan Park or Belgrad Forest, is a large, and largely unused, pine wood. Although it’s open to the public, it’s not open to cars — although, unfortunately, it did seem to be open to the odd motorcycle.
A few hundred meters from the entrance, you begin to lose sight of anything but the stands of pine. A blue sky looms overhead, and sunlight filters through the branches. Soon the city disappears, and aside from the wail of the occasional siren, you hear little more than the wind through the trees. Stray a little from the beaten paths and you’ll soon feel the soft springy carpet of pine needles underfoot. It’s then that you can occupy yourself with the important things in life — such as locating the perfect pine cone.
Perhaps I’m biased, being descended from Scottish stock, but I think the humble wee oat is a champion among grains. I wonder if Robbie Burns ever made an ode to an oat? He certainly did an Address To A Haggis, and would haggis be the same beast without oats? Oats seem to have a special affinity for fruit, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves and thus make nice chewy cookies, or if you’re feeling like ramping up the fruit factor further, contribute magnificently to a spot of crumble. Perhaps even more intriguingly (for some of us, at least) they also wash down nicely when brewed into a fantastic kind of stout that finishes with an even more chocolatey silk finish than that possessed by a Guinness. God, I’d really love a pint now. I hope Brewmaster Hall at the Bosphorus Brewing Company is reading this. If you prefer to keep your oat drinks in the all ages category, however, you might try the Latin American delight, Avena.
Oatmeal isn’t processed to the same extent that many other everyday grains are, and so seems to retain a whole whack more nutrition, fibre and antioxidant power than its rivals. If a sheaf of oat challenged a sheaf of wheat to an arm wrestle, there’d be no contest. Its health benefits are legion. Spiced with some cinnamon and ginger, it also warms you up in a way that two slices of toast just don’t seem to when the thermometer drops at this time of year.
The morning paper said that coffee helped ward off the most common form of liver cancer, and so he poured himself a fresh cup, confident in this latest research. One item on the breakfast menu, at least, was safe. No milk, no sugar, though. No, thank you. They said dairy was bad. They said sugar was more addictive to the system than heroin. It was a new year. He was going to eat only healthy choices from now on. Excise the bread from his meals. He ate three crunchy cucumbers. A mouthful of freshly washed, organic (he hoped) spinach. He could almost imagine all the toxins being chased from within. He felt relieved. He felt enlivened. He felt a little hungry still. Stone oven baked simit didn’t really count as bread, did it? And if it did, well he’d make sure none appeared on the table tomorrow. It had sesame seeds, and those were healthy, right? Perhaps a little pat of butter too, he thought. It was winter after all, and needed the extra vitamin D … or was it E? Good for the bones, or skin, or something.
Then he saw the honey. Nature’s purest and oldest form of sweetener. The original gold. Yep, surely a good choice. Besides bee colonies had been suffering, lately. Productivity was down. Anything he could do to help those bees recognize their importance in the food chain was a good idea. Absolutely. But you don’t want to overdo the sweet, now do you? Or mix carbs with protein. Or was that fruit with protein? Find out later … how could you go wrong with some vitamin and protein rich eggs?
After, he leaned back in his chair and sighed, while his stomach gurgled its contentment. “Ah, 2014,” he said, “It’s going to be a good year, isn’t it?” He was resolute.