Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Food Crush: Semiz Otu

Humid at morning, tourists take warning.

I've always thought that the Princes' Islands of Istanbul where the best exile you could get. We're in the middle of a nasty humid snap here, a snap that's taken the whole summer really. A snap that, along with a sudden, ugly, raise in Southeastern tensions (best documented here) has led to a grumpier summer than most. It was time to make like Snake and escape from the mainland. A reverse Theodosia, if you will.

And I was fortunate enough to be invited to Burgazada by a travel writer and historian who I can safely liken to a Byzantine Rain Man. You know, walk past an old building and he goes "Paleologue...definitely Paleologue. Probably Manuel V" and the sort.

As you well know, the Islands are fantastic. Break of humidity, salty sea air, and riots of blooms. All fantastic stuff. But what needs to be shared is the semiz otu. We stumbled into a Greek joint named "Barba Yani" for mezes and raki to stabilize us for our climb. Nothing prepares for a mountain jaunt better than a couple double-rakis, believe us.

Called "Purslane" in English, semiz otu is a clover-looking weed that just happens to be delicious and pure summer. Bitter and full of greenyness, they're fantastic raw and really shouldn't be cooked. The freshness on a nasty summer day is key here.

Some folk may want to chop it up and put it in a salad, I'm a fan of mixing it with yogurt and cucumber. You can get it for free at most grocers in this town. I've already gone through one bunch...the older we get, the more cold-blooded we get, and the more cold, crisp, things get us through to August.

So whether you're getting your crampons out for Uludag or just sitting out in the sun all afternoon, find some semizotu. Mix with yogurt, cucumber, and an equal amount of raki. Dabble in both and pontificate on the death of old empires and the rise of new ones. Now you, too, can be unemployed and an ostensible writer-sort like our Burgaz guide.

Or ourselves


/Pours another raki and breaks out more semiz otu.


  1. please say what is the meaning of( semiz otu )in inglish.