On Eating Out

We have terrace

The cry of the Turkish restaurant tout echoes through the narrow streets of Istanbul. Men wearing Fez walk past. They stumble drunk and fall into a backpackers.

We have terrace!

Sir. I’m not sure that you heard me. We have terrace.

We walk on and leave him confused. How could someone walk past the once in a life time offer of a terrace.

We have terrace! — Cries another tout. The touts, confined to the area around their restaurants are like bored dogs: barking at whoever goes past.

We have terrace!

We have terrace!

We have a lift to the terrace!

We attempt to read the menu.

Excuse me sir; I understand that you speak English as your first language and that it is my second language. So allow me to demonstrate my command of your language by reading this menu to you. I know you can and are trying to read the menu, but allow me to get in the way.

This is lamb kebab. And this is chicken. You see these letters, they make up the word Chicken. We’ve put a picture of a chicken next to the word ‘chicken’ just in case this is a challenge for you. This is salads and here are the pides. We tried to make it confusing by putting them under the section labeled pide.

Do you have any vegetarian food?

Why yes, in Turkey we have this thing known as a pide. It’s like a pizza but it’s bread with cheese on top. Have you tried this yet? Or we can make a salad out of tomato, cucumber and feta.

In one restaurant we said we’d tried both of those dishes many times now and were looking for something different. The man looked around, walked over to the fridge, opened the door and pointed to the watermelon.

Do you want that?

I know that our menu is exactly the same as every other restaurant here. So I’ll just bring out my trump card now: we — he starts and then leans into whisper: keep this a secret from the other restaurants, but; we have terrace.

We settle on a restaurant selection method by frequenting the restaurants with the least aggressive touts.

when: Wednesday, September 24, 2014