08 November 2010

Food Adventure of the Week: Kokoreç


So that is kokoreç (Co-Co-Rech). "What is kokoreç?" you may be asking yourself, and how does this count as a food adventure since it looks pretty normal and a little bit like ground and grilled chicken? That's because it's not chicken, its lamb or goat. Oh yeah, and it's also the small intestine of said animal, wrapped around a spit and then roasted over some source of heat.

Yum, doesn't that look delightful? Wikipedia says that it usually wrapped around some other organ meat like kidneys, lungs, sweetbreads (that's gland for anyone who doesn't know), or heart, but I don't think that mine had any of that stuff in it. I don't know, it might've, I'm not really sure since I couldn't exactly see what was wrapped inside of the kokoreç, nor do I think that I really want to know what was wrapped inside. Anyways, back to the intestines, they're seasoned, spit roasted, and then cut off, chopped up, and in the case of where I was, served in a lovely roll of french bread like a sandwich. You can also eat it served on a plate, or wrapped in a dürüm wrap (basically a flour tortilla).

So what was the verdict? It was super tasty! They seasoned it really really well, and it wasn't even remotely chewy, which is what I would expect from intestine. There weren't any of the gross little hairy things that you usually get with tripe, and it was so chopped up that you couldn't even tell what the hell it was. My friend Sarah said it best, that the consistency was a lot like fatty beef, soft and a little bit meaty. I feel like Andrew Zimmern would be proud of my eating weird things, and Anthony Bourdain would be proud of my eating innards.

So this all came about because Kardi, my dorm neighbor friend who took us to that place to get Maraş dondurma (icecream), likes going on food adventures and wanted to take me out to get kokoreç because I was intrigued by it. Mainly I was interested because half of the people that I talked to about it said that they loved it and then the other half just made a gross face and said that they thought it was a disgusting concept. Kardi said that most of the people who said that they hated it had actually never even tried it because they were scared/lame. I also wanted to try it because apparently it is very traditional Ottoman food, so of course I couldn't leave Turkey without eating it. So Kardi took Hilla, Sarah, and me to a kokoreç restaurant in downtown Ankara that was the recommendation of her roommate who's from Ankara and who loves kokoreç. It ended up being this bar that had the rotating intestine spits in the entryway, so you could see them making it. Because it was being served in a bar I just figured that it would be excellent bar food so I ordered a beer, some fries, and onion rings to go with my kokoreç. Kardi later told me that this is a really weird thing to do since it actually isn't considered "bar food", since it's Ottoman, and the Ottomans probably didn't drink beer with it (actually they probably didn't drink beer at all, being Muslim and all). But it did end up being good bar food in the way that someone might consider a Philly cheesesteak to be good bar food; greasy and goes great with fries and a beer. I also managed to drink good Efes for once, since their usual Pilsner tastes like Bud (gross), but their "dark" beer actually tastes a little bit like beer. So our dinner ended up being this bizarre hodgepodge of kokoreç, french fries, onion rings, stuffed muscles, calamari, beer, and then Kardi got this disgusting fermented carrot drink that tasted like drinking spicy pickle juice. She likes it though, although Sarah, Hilla, and I all made gross faces after trying it. And afterwards we finished off the night by going to Mado and buying a whole bunch of Maraş dondurma: goats milk, chocolate, and pistachio flavors, and we still had to cut them with a knife.

In a complete change of subject, this Friday I'm going to Istanbul with Hilla and Sarah to stay with Kardi and her father for a couple of days before the Korban Bayram holiday. Then Monday we're leaving for Egypt for a week to spend the holiday there. Many exciting pictures should be up in my next post after I come back from the holiday on the 21st.

Also in other news, I have less than 8 weeks until I come home. Holy crap.

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