Summer Vacation Ideas: Istanbul

Jodi Ettenberg Legal nomads

This is a Hipmunk post from Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads.

Straddling Asia and Europe, Istanbul’s many neighbourhoods are a feast for the eyes. From mosques to old Roman aqueducts to modern buildings and palaces aplenty, the city continues to impress, even after weeks in town. I spent 3 weeks there and it was not enough; I returned several months later to continue the exploration.

Here are some photos from the many beautiful sides of Istanbul. Great place to visit in the summer when the weather is warm and the rooftops hopping.




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Chicken Pudding: Dessert of Champions

This is a Hipmunk post from Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads

You read that right: chicken pudding, and for dessert too. During my weeks in Istanbul, I made it a point (of course) to eat as much as possible of the different local offerings. I’m not a dessert person – I don’t like chocolate – but I do enjoy a good pudding. And an unusual but popular dessert choice in the city is tavuk göğsü.

The pudding, thick and creamy and rolled over itself and topped with cinnamon, does not taste of chicken at all. The chicken is boiled and shredded, blended with the rest of the ingredients to get a goopy, dense consistency. The sugar and spices mask any chickenesque taste but as a result one serving can fill you up fairly quickly. In the Middle Ages, the same technique was used to make blancmange pudding, though contemporary iterations do not generally include the poultry.

So where’s the best place in town to get it? Thanks to a tip from Istanbul Eats, I went to Kismet Muhallebecisi (Kucukpazar Cad. 68, Eminonu, Istanbul), a tiny, unpretentious restaurant near the old Spice Bazaar. And returned. And returned.

Me with the chicken pudding master.

If you’re not heading to Istanbul anytime soon, you can always try your hand at making your own. The Atlantic has a recipe for traditional chicken pudding, with rice flour and vanilla, adapted a classic Turkish cookbook. It says the cinnamon is optional but trust me: you need the cinnamon.

For step-by-step instructions on a variation with pomegranate and almonds, see this detailed post from FX Cuisine.

For those of you who are vegetarian, there’s always vanilla and pistachio pudding! But if you do eat meat, you’d be remiss to skip this dessert – it was one of the best things I ate during my time in Istanbul.


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Murmuration of Starlings over Istanbul

This is a Hipmunk post from Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads

Istanbul is a lovely city to explore but a curious thing happens at dusk: murmurations of starlings swirl their way across the city’s many rooftops, clustering on a tree then continuing on their graceful path. For anyone who has seen starlings in flight, it’s an incredible, magical sight.
Walking back to the hostel yesterday, a cloud of starlings passed overhead, curling around the buildings:

But photos can only capture so much. Thankfully, Sophie Windsor Clive from Ireland had a video camera with her when she stumbled on a murmuration of starlings:

 [vimeo w=500&h=400]

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

As Wired Magazine noted in an article about starling physics:

Mathematical analysis of flock dynamics show how each starling’s movement is influenced by every other starling, and vice versa. It doesn’t matter how large a flock is, or if two birds are on opposite sides. It’s as if every individual is connected to the same network.

The article also makes it clear that the connectivity of movement as a whole is something scientists have yet to understand. The strong correlation between each of the birds remains a mystery, but one that is beautiful to behold.


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