Richard Thomas Duke IV on Turkish Sites and Flavors via TurkishCuisine

Richard Thomas Duke IV Remembers Turkish Sites and Flavors Host: Our guest of the week is Richard Thomas Duke IV. He is a teacher in New York City. He also taught in Ankara which is the capital of Turkey. While he was teaching there, he had an opportunity to travel to many regions of the country and the sample traditional Turkish foods. He is very excited to share his stories with us. Now let’s go and hear about him. Rihard Thomas: I’m a teacher in New York City and that’s actually how we got to Turkey. Through teaching after school, I graduated at a college and despite of that, I wanted to go teach overseas and so I said, “Why not on Turkey.” And I have got a great opportunity to go in the school, hired me there and I was able to work there for a year. I lived in Ankara in Gazi Oz- and taught at the school called –the Koleji. And while I was there, I was able to travel around the country and see the different parts of the country, the western seaboard especially along Agean Sea and Mediterranean Sea. I mean I found the country fantastic. It was so nice that the people were great there. The hospitality was—I’ve never had people more hospitable towards me than the Turkish people. They accepted me in. They were very nice to me. I never felt any sort of strange feelings from the Turkish people and I just had a great time. I was able to go to Istanbul and Izmir. In Izmir I only spent possibly a day or two in while I was traveling down to Ephesus. And in Istanbul I was actually able to spend probably four or five days just walking around and seeing the sites and going to all the major tourist attractions and things like that. And then I had some friends that live there also so I was able to go and visit them. And of course tavla on the bus for this is a great thing with the narghile and everything like that—I’ve tried. So, it was a good time. I never had Turkish food before I went to Turkey. And in fact, that was actually one of my biggest concerns. It was how I was going to eat. I didn’t know what the food would be like. And when I first got there, actually the strangest thing to me was the yogurt. Putting plain yogurt on meats and different kinds of vegetable and not having fruit in the yogurt. And actually I remembered when I was in the school that I would go eat lunch with the students. And on the first days, we had yogurt and the students were putting it on there meat and I was looking around very strangely and I was putting my bananas and grapes into the yogurt and they were looking at me very strangely as well. So, it took me a while to get and used to kind of doing the different kinds of things that has to do with the yogurt. I think that was a big part for me. But once I got into the food and people told me what I should eat at night and like they took me into some restaurants. It was great. I mean some of the dishes just—I have not been able to find even at—the Turkish restaurants here, they still taste a little differently in America than they do in Turkey. So, I haven’t been able to find what I could get in Turkey here yet. I would have to say skender are the best. Skender, it’s a very plain dish. I think are very common dish in Turkey but it by far is the best with the combination of the pita and the meats and then the yogurt on top and the sauce. It was just unbelievable and I feel like I ate that almost every night. I gained so much weight because I was eating the skender all the time. I also really enjoyed—not too many people that I talk to from Turkey know about this too much but tantuni—have you had tantuni before? Every time I say tantuni, either the people know it or they don’t. I don’t know but I love that and there is a great place on Ankara that I could get that down there—and bay tea. Bay tea was another one of my favorites. It was like Turkish Macaroni and Cheese. I feel like it was a great dish. If someone were talk to me about going to Turkey, actually a lot of my friends are going on honeymoons right now. And the first place that I suggest is going to Turkey because it’s such a beautiful country and there are so many things to offer and so much culture and history there that I think that people can just go have a fabulous town there. But I would say that—in terms of the food, I would say just go and try it because there’s nothing like it. There really isn’t anything like it. When you go there and you sit in a restaurant and you have the people coming and you get to try the different sorts of food that pretty much are not really part of the American Cuisine, it’s just a totally different experience. If I just have to tell the people to be extremely open at what they try and just know that even though they put yogurt on their meat, it’s actually really good. I mean, you have to get used to some things. And if you go to Turkey, just make to try as much as you can because you will not regret it.