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Mediterranean Diet – Olive,Feta,Tomato,Watermelon

The precaution shown in the last post about the unintended silence during my holiday had come true and I’d abandoned my blog for over a week. There are still weeks until the actual holiday begins but I’m already well-tanned because of my frequent hopping to the Mediterranean side of Turkey. I feel great when I am down in the south, with the two things I can’t live without besides food: the sun and the sea. If you haven’t been to Turkey yet, my summer stories in Turkey might tempt you to visit this country.


Besides famous ancient Greek and Roman ruins, natural wonders such as Pamukkale(above) and Cappadocia will blow your mind. Personally I love the routes between Bodrum and Troy, the blessed and fertile land, highly sought after by many civilisations, scholars, artists and the like. The sea is deep blue and the hills are covered with olive trees. I cried my heart out to the breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, driving over the hills near Assos on my first road trip along the Aegean Sea, which changed my life. Whenever I am down in this area, I feel tender and teary, remembering the moment.


It has everything I love and it’s all natural; olives, cheese, tomatoes, fish, etc. I feel blessed to be surrounded by the fresh food and given hand-pressed extra virgin olive oil from various people living in the olive town of Turkey, Küçükkuyu.


How can people not be relaxed and happy eating this fresh healthy food everyday? Every house has a garden with various fruit trees and grows vegetables. Many people still make bread, yogurt and cheese at home. It is a paradise and people are all smiling. In some small restaurants, ladies and kids will start collecting vegetables from the garden upon order and the whole family is involved in serving customers; dad fires the stove, mum cleans and chops veggies, grandma cooks, kids set the table. It is such a charming scene.


The latest olive was from an acquaintance of Mr.O, who owns an olive orchard and produces high quality olive oil, called Dhara”. Being a foodie means that people give me free things to taste sometimes. I think people who love food are generous and want to share the pleasure with others.


I get pampered with the abundance of fresh produce and sun in summer times and spend less time in the kitchen. I simply don’t see the needs to cook because vegetables and fruit are so fresh and tasty on their own. One thing that is essential in Turkish cuisine is “Domates Salçası“, which is tomato paste but more concentrated and flavoursome than the common paste because of the way it is made here; boiled down and dried in the sun for a week. The part of the world is so sunny and people sun-dry everything. I am especially impressed with the capsicum paste, another staple in Turkish cuisine.


I am so addicted to this tomato paste mixed in olive oil and herbs these days. What do you think of my summer time diet? – olives, sheep feta cheese, tomato paste in olive oil, rocket leaves, parsley, raddish, carrot, cucumber, bread and lots of olive oil, and cherries.


What has made my life easier is the recent discovery of a local shop that sells olives from his orchard in Küçükkuyuand delicious home-made tomato paste and goat cheese. He is an olive expert and gave me different olive oils made in different methods for comparing, which was really interesting. The fruity aroma that we often connect to high quality in olive oil is, in fact, due to the addition of rotten olives. So the secret of “noble rot” in the Sauternes wine works with olive oil as well.


If the temperature is too high, my lunch will be watermelon, sheep feta cheese and bread dipped in the milky watermelon juice, simple yet refreshing. Watermelon onion salad was common in summer time back in Australia and I suppose its origin is Mediterranean. You will be marbling at the sight of many trucks selling watermelons on the roadside. You will just want to crack it open and gobble it down. Do you know how to cool watermelon without a fridge by the way? Just cut it open and leave it in the sun for 10 minutes or so. I didn’t believe it when I was told that but I experimented it myself and was surprised that it worked.


Life in the Aegean Sea offers everything I’d wished for happy living except for wine, which is my constant fight in surviving in Turkey. The wine price has recently gone up again…grunt grunt. So I am considering making my own wine, perhaps this August. Where can I get oak barrels? Hmm…perhaps I will use the carbonic maceration technique 🙂


I am heading down to Fethiye again in 10 days so I will try to blog as much as I can before that but I can’t guarantee it as usual. The sun and the sea is making me lazy these days. Summer is a time for pleasure and winter for cooking.


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