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Gazientep Turkey - Help please

estufarian Dec 9, 2013 01:53 PM

Given its proximity to Syria I'm hoping this is where some potential respondees might lurk. Political borders notwithstanding - I'll go with cultural relevance.

I'm in the final stages of planning a trip to Turkey with my final destination being Gazientep (from where I fly home).
While searching my food related files, I found this comment (from 2005!).

"Any Turkish gourmand knows that Gaziantep, a city close to the Syrian border and legendary for the spicy intricacy of its stews and kebabs, is the source of the country's best cooking.... the smoky wafer-thin lah¬ma¬cun (Turkish pizza) topped with grilled eggplant, along with the delirious syrup-soaked walnut rolls, would be worth a trek all the way to the Syrian border."

OK this is waaay out-of-date - but my question is whether the food around Gazientep is worth extending my trip for. Currently I'm planned to arrive on a Saturday and fly out on the Sunday. The quote suggests I should (at least) investigate staying a little longer.
Can anyone out there help? And specific suggestions would be even better.
Thanks, in advance.

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    shpeizmaven RE: estufarian Dec 9, 2013 01:58 PM

    Can't recommend a particular spot ther but definitely have to have pistachio baklava (best pistachios in Turkey come from around Gaziantep) and Ali Nazim (a sort of kofte-like kebap served on a smokey eggplant puree). On a non-foody note, I highly recommend the archaeology museum which has spectacular mosaics from Zeugma.

    1 Reply
    1. re: shpeizmaven
      estufarian RE: shpeizmaven Dec 9, 2013 02:20 PM

      Thank you for your prompt reply.
      Both of those foods are now on my list to try when I'm there. The mosaics will depend on whether I'm 'museum'd out' after several weeks touring Turkey. I'll do a little research on them.
      I'll also check out some of your local (to me) recommendations as well.

    2. Caroline1 RE: estufarian Dec 11, 2013 02:08 AM

      Two thoughts come to mind for me.

      The first is, since you're already there, why not stay a little longer if you can manage it? It's a lot cheaper than a second trip, and who knows what wonders you may find with the extra time?

      The other thing is that I've had more success with finding great food by just winging it than I have had by following other people's recommendations. One of my basic rules is that when I want to experience the most "authentic" local foods, look for a small crowded place that has few to no tourists in it. I've never worried about language or a written menu because, no matter how large or small the place, they always know we're there to eat and that the easiest way to figure out what we want to eat is to take us to the kitchen and let us point. We've had some magical food experiences that way!

      Enjoy Gazientep, and safe journey home!

      6 Replies
      1. re: Caroline1
        estufarian RE: Caroline1 Dec 11, 2013 07:43 AM

        Thanks for your suggestions.
        I totally agree with your philosophy about taking the extra time - except that means dropping something else - this year we are committed to two family reunions and are trying to ration the total vacation time we have available. With the reunion in UK we had 'almost planned' to hop over to Bilbao for a couple of days after the reunion - if we stay in Gazientep that plan will have to be abandoned (I know, everyone is crying at my dilemma!).
        I have been doing additional research and have also found some places in Istanbul serving 'authentic' Gazientep cuisine (research also shows it is the produce and spices that are perhaps more famous than the cuisine itself), so that's another alternative - my travelling plans currently give me several days in Istanbul at the start, so I can leverage an extra weekend (delaying return flights needs additional vacation time).
        The good news is that I will be there! Already I seem certain to be able to find some outstanding food that is a bonus - this was planned as an adventure trip (as opposed to a food trip) but I'll happily combine the two.
        And my suspicion is that none of the restaurants will have too many tourists - only an hour from the Syrian border is hardly top of most people's list. And the advice to look for crowded places is excellent.
        So, Bilbao/San Sebastian vs. Gazientep...... (is there a board for that?).

        1. re: estufarian
          Caroline1 RE: estufarian Dec 11, 2013 09:28 AM

          Senseless for me to say "have fun!" because you're already doing that! So go have MORE fun! And now I'm running to the nearest mirror to see how I look when I'm green.... with envy! '-)

          1. re: Caroline1
            estufarian RE: Caroline1 Dec 11, 2013 09:30 AM

            I think that comes from eating too many pistachios (from Gazientep of course).

            1. re: estufarian
              Caroline1 RE: estufarian Dec 11, 2013 10:04 PM

              LOL! Those Turkish pistachios ARE addictive. I know. I lived in Adana for four years! Do NOT miss Turkish apricots, especially the dondurma (ice cream). Nothing short of incredible.

              1. re: Caroline1
                estufarian RE: Caroline1 Dec 12, 2013 08:26 AM

                Thanks for the recommendations.
                Included in my list.
                I've had dondurma before (in Jordan). And it was involved in my favourite food story. As I was eating it and strolling around a food store, AmuseGirl pointed out the identification on one of the cheeses. Yes, it was 'Cheeses of Nazareth' - I think much of the dondurma was inhaled!

                1. re: estufarian
                  Caroline1 RE: estufarian Dec 12, 2013 02:45 PM

                  Then maybe this will massage your funny bone? '-)

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