/Homesick for Istanbul

Homesick for Istanbul

It happens every time I go to Istanbul. I visit for a few days and the city embeds itself so far under my skin that I find it emotionally distressing to leave. This is how it used to feel when I left Rome during my bright college years when I was coming and going for thesis research. But back in the early 2000s, I was ballsy and my brain was more malleable, so I could see myself moving abroad (I did!) and learning the language (did that, too). Now, a move doesn’t seem so easy and the complexities and financial sacrifices of relocating makes the pangs of homesickness I feel for Istanbul that much more acute.

This trip was particularly special, as it is springtime in Istanbul and my friend Şemsa and I made the most of it with daily breakfasts and dinners on her balcony. We both enjoyed the ridiculous view of the Bosphorus Bridge and I felt particularly pampered by her extraordinary artichoke-driven cooking.

I had a few really wonderful meals out, including lunch with Tuba at Çiya, a place everyone freaks out over, but which I sometimes find disappointing (world’s worst içli köfte, anyone?). This was not the case on Wednesday. We had some amazing seasonal kebabs like sarımsak kebabı (garlic kebab) and yeni dünya kebabı (loquat kebab).

Lunch at Kasap Osman in Sirkeci was downright disgusting…they put melted cheese on my doner! Vomitous. So I went across the street to Namlı Rumeli Köftecisi for a nice plate of redeeming, palate-cleansing köfte.

Another meaty highlight were the köfte at Ali Baba in Arnavutköy, my ideal comfort food.

I also enjoyed strolling along the Bosphorus admiring the houses I will never be able to afford.

Back in the thick of it all, I spent an afternoon in the Grand Bazaar, something I never do because the hawkers are so profoundly obnoxious. But this time I went after a good lunch at Şeyhmus Kebap Evi with my buddy Ansel of Istanbul Eats.

Sufficiently nourished and armed with headphones and a stone face, I braved the hey ladys and where you froms shouted by the tchotchke vendors and hightailed it to the antiques section where I window shopped for sugar bowls, marble mortars and copper samovars.

Then it was back to Şemsa’s for another fabulous meal. With a spread like this, leaving seems like a crime against good sense.

2017-02-17T15:18:08+00:00 May 6th, 2012|Categories: Culture, Istanbul, Turkish Cuisine|6 Comments


  1. mart May 7, 2012 at 10:04 am - Reply

    Is it me or is your picture taking really taking off?
    Love the last one, what is in the glass? Love the cooler(?) can you bring me one ;-)?
    When I read your Turkey posts a lot of times Italian food is to bland for me. (My pasta dishes have some eastern influences now and then but for some reason sometimes the taste is inapt (if that is possible). Turkish food can be very good, love all the vegetable and grain/rice dishes.

  2. Stella May 7, 2012 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    Great post and amazing photos! I love visiting Istanbul, and more often than not, my trips focus around amazing Turkish food. Reading your post reminds me of how much I miss indulging in some amazing Turkish food like kofte. I recently found this website where they publish great recipes of Turkish food. Might want to check it out when you’ve got baklava cravings:


  3. Sarah May Grunwald May 8, 2012 at 9:47 am - Reply

    I feel this way about Naples for some reason. Also I have decided it is ok if you ever move to Turkey, I will not cut you. I will visit you and go to all the wonderful places you write about!

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  5. s May 9, 2012 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    so lovely- why would you ever want to leave. i know what you mean, Istanbul captivates you. i know it sounds really cliche- but i just love the way east and west comes together in this wondrous city. you can go to the mosque during the day and then take a stroll in Bebek in the evening…

    where are those gorgeous homes?

    x s

  6. Tommy June 22, 2012 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    Some of those houses are 150 million dollars 🙂 and you can’t find one to buy.

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