When we were in Istanbul I cradled a glass of hot apple tea in my hands wherever we went. We were given tea in the markets while bargaining over the price of decorative plates. We drank tea at the Grand Bazaar at a cafe that was recommended and took us over an hour to find. We drank apple tea in the mornings and at night after dinner. Sometimes I drank apple tea after lunch. Occasionally I would forget to specify apple tea and they would give me Turkish tea and that was (almost) as good, but not quite. I would break my own rules and have caffeine at any hour I chose, because it was apple tea and I was in Istanbul and it was delicious and I loved holding the glass in my hands and breathing in the apple scent and drinking the tea slowly, because I always drink slowly.
We also drank sahlep. Vendors sold this delicious milk drink on the corners and we drank at least one cup of it a day. Of course, the cups were very small, but it was a treat. It tasted of milk and honey and floral and cinnamon and we would pay a few TL and savor the drink as we walked around the older parts of the city.
These days I’m missing these drinks. In Chicago I have to stand in a line at Starbucks (or better yet, a local coffee shop) to order a fancy drink (that takes too long to make) in a to-go cup that is too big and too expensive for a simple treat. It’s as if the city wants me to freeze. Istanbul was much better at keeping the bellies of its visitors and residents warm and full
Istanbul, I miss you and your delicious treats and your friendly shop vendors and your large mosques and the singing that calls worshipers to prayer. I also miss the desserts we ate for breakfast and the time we went to Asia for lunch and got on the wrong ferry and ended up on the opposite side of the bay. I wish we could be back in Turkey bargaining with shop owners and reading our guide-book and walking around holding hands and eating our baked goods that we bought from other street vendors. I miss the roasted chestnuts that were everywhere and for all different prices. I miss the friendly people and the expensive seafood and the small-sized drinks. But most of all, I miss the apple tea!