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Turkish Coffee and Galeri Set

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Placemats in this photo were made by my mother who passed away four years ago.

I know, I haven’t been around for some time but I am not ignoring or neglecting VegFusion Peoples. The truth is I just got home from a five-week trip to Istanbul, London, Paris, Munich, Vienna, Prague, Berlin and Istanbul again. The main reason for this holiday was Toto concerts. We bought tickets to go and see them live some time ago after exhausting our hopes of seeing them play in Sydney –by the way we went to two concerts in the end (Paris and Berlin). So the whole trip was shaped up around their concert dates. Now that I have done my laundry, got over my jet-lag although it keeps coming back and even sorted out some of the holiday photos (only some though), I am ready to share my culinary experiences with you.

In today’s post, I have goodies from Turkey. Four years ago, during one of my trips to Turkey, I was flying from Istanbul to Izmir and reading an in-flight magazine during take-off. In that particular issue there was an article about a shop at Spice Bazaar in Istanbul called Galeri Set. They sell hand-made Turkish coffee cups –among other porcelain objects. What’s so special about them is they are made using traditional methods which means it takes twenty-one days to make one coffee cup.

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A postcard from Istanbul.

Before I left Sydney, I watched videos about the shop, history of Turkish coffee and these particular cups as well. When in Istanbul, we had to track down Galeri Set in Spice Bazaar –thank God, Spice Bazaar is not as big as Grand Bazaar. I must admit, I still find that part of Istanbul quite confusing but anyway we found the place and bought a set of two for us and a set of two for our dear friends in Sydney (as promised). While talking to their sales person, one of the owners started chatting with me. He turned out to be Uğur Atik –the very person in the videos I watched on YouTube before the holiday! He is an incredibly polite and soft spoken person just like he is in the videos. He offered us a special cologne –produced only for the Sultans, not for common folks like us. It was different to straight forward lemon cologne which is widely used in Turkey. Mr Atik then told us a little story about a Sultan who used this cologne and the story came with a demonstration too. In the end, he gave us a pack of Turkish coffee as present, a pack of rose flavoured Turkish delight and a DVD of his TV appearances. We are also invited to have coffee with him next time we’re in Istanbul.

OK, let’s talk about the shop. Galeri Set was established in 1972 and it’s at number 78 in the heart of Spice Bazaar (Mısır Çarşısı). Every object they sell there is hand-made and produced with the same techniques used 650 years ago. You could safely say that there is a long history behind everything. Obama, Queen Elizabeth, George W. Bush, Fidel Castro, King and Queen of Jordan, President of the Republic of Austria, Beşar Esad, President of Syria, Zeid Al Suderi, Prince of Saudi Arabia, and Kevin Costner are among their clientele.

IMG_4919 (908x1024)Now, let’s talk about the coffee cups or ‘fincan’ as we call them in Turkish. The ones I have are 17th century, coral red ones. I was going to get yellow fincans but a friend of mine from Turkey gave me a beautiful yellow set as a present (photo above) so, I decided to get the red ones instead.

Colours represent a certain era or century in Ottoman history. For example:
Turquoise and pink: 16th century
Coral and midnight blue: 17th century
Yellow and green: 18th century

A good quality Turkish coffee fincan (cup) should be wide down the bottom and narrow at the top. This way, the foam will not disperse easily. The handles have a special angle so whether you are left-handed or right-handed, this particular angle makes it easy for everyone.

How to make Turkish coffee
First of all, you need to know how everyone has their coffee which means how much sugar you will need to use as there is no add-sugar-later-on kind of thing in the making of Turkish coffee. There are four sugar levels:
• Şekersiz or sade: no sugar at all
• Az şekerli: with little sugar (½ Turkish teaspoon)
• Orta şekerli: medium (1 Turkish teaspoon)
• Şekerli: 2 Turkish teaspoon

Note: 1 Turkish teaspoon equals 1 level teaspoon.
Second, you will need a ‘cezve’ to make Turkish coffee. Cezve is a narrow necked pot with a long handle. Usually made out of brass.
Turkish coffee should be quite fine and you can only achieve that by using a traditional grinder. Regular electric grinders don’t do the job properly. It’s better if you have a brass one and do it yourself but you can buy your coffee already ground too. I have my grandmother’s antique coffee grinder (photo below) in case you’re wondering what it looks like. However, all of that is not practical; I can hear you. In that case, you can buy pre-packaged ones from Middle-Eastern stores.

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My grandmother’s coffee grinder.

Preparing Turkish coffee in a cezve:
Add coffee and sugar to the cezve (1 heaped teaspoon of coffee per person).
Top them up with cold water and stir. Always use your fincan as a measuring cup for water.
When stirring the mixture of coffee, sugar and water, the spoon should be held with an angle to create finer foam, not bubbles. If you hold the spoon in a 90 degree angle, you get bubbles.
Bring it to a boil, quickly remove from heat and pour the foam into your coffee cup. Return the cezve to the heat. Boil again and quickly pour more coffee into your fincan but not all of it. Boil the coffee one more time and pour the rest of it into cup. Do not, under any circumstances cook your coffee.

How to Drink Turkish Coffee
First of all, you start by drinking water which is served with your coffee to cleanse your palate. Then, wait for the sediment to settle to the bottom of your cup which should take about 30 seconds. I remember the first time my husband tried Turkish coffee. Of course, he didn’t know and thought he was drinking mud. He still hasn’t recovered from that memory.
Afiyet olsun Peoples!

So, if you ever find yourself in Istanbul, go to Galeri Set and get yourself some Turkish coffee fincans. Next time, I’ll get a tray too!

Galeri Set
Mısır Çarşısı İçi No: 78
Eminönü – Istanbul

Spice Bazaar in Istanbul
A shop at Spice Bazaar in Istanbul

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