Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas in Turkey

I never imagined a Christmas without my family, but finding myself in a country that is a 20 hour plane ride away from Canada's East Coast, and with only a long weekend to celebrate Christmas, I had to make Christmas happen in Turkey.

I was planning on going skiing at Turkey's Ilgaz Mountain until an unexpected toe surgery kept me off the slopes.  Stuck in Ankara for Christmas, I decided to make the best of it.  I ended up having a surprisingly great Christmas with my lovely friends, and made a few new ones.

On Thursday night, I went with my friends to the US Embassy for their Happy Hour.  The marine's fraternity-esquenmhb house was festively decorated, and we enjoyed what is probably of the best salsa I've ever tasted.

Friday, Christmas Eve, was my favourite day of the holiday, er, weekend.  I went to Cafe des Cafes, which I have decided is my favourite restaurant in Ankara, with Eilidh for lunch and then went shopping for our baking ingredients.  We bought the ingredients required for a delicious Christmas brunch, kısır, chinese fried rice and chocolate truffles.  Sick of drinking powdered Nescafe coffee mixes, Eilidh and I bought ourselves coffee makers and Starbucks coffee to go with it as a Christmas treat.  To my delight, my Christmas parcel that my mom mailed from Canada arrived just in time!  Unable to wait until Christmas day, I opened up my as soon as I got into my appartment and was elated, as usual, to have new pyjamas, which are my favourite gift to recieve.

My Christmas presents :)  and Mıstık, my little Munchkin

Eliidh and I spent the afternoon making chinese fried rice, kısır and chocolate truffles.  Have a guess for which one actually turned out correctly.  It's not easy to find the ingredients that you need to cook the food you would normally cook in the West.  We found the Toblerone bars needed for the truffles, but the cream cheese proved to be far more difficult. Krem peynir (cream cheese) is available here, but is not the kind we are used to.  Krem peynir is much more liquidy, not as firm as the Philidelphia cream cheese that my truffles recipe requires.  We thought we had found a more firm krem peynir, but it still wasn't firm enough....we did end up with truffles, but they need to be kept frozen so the soft mixture doesn't melt in your fingers.  The chinese fried rice (my favourite dish that my mom makes) didn't really turn out either.  My mom neglected to tell me about the oh-so-important step that is rinsing the rice, to get the starch off...well, Eilidh did tell me I needed to rinse the rice (she used to live in China, after all) but I discovered that I didn't rinse the rice nearly well enough.  By the time I mixed in the other ingredients, my rice was hardly distinguishable from a large, starchy blob.  It did taste alright though.

The too-soft-of consistency truffles

Kate's Christmas Tree

These 5 slices of bacon cost 9 Turkish Lira, that's about 6 Canadian Dollars
Kate, ever the organizer of social events for the holidays, organized a tree decorating evening at her appartment, complete with a skinny Christmas tree, mulled wine and eggnog.  After a few drinks at Kate's, we headed to the Forty-Nine for more drinks, and then off to Manhattan.  The band was great, and we danced all night, not arriving home until around 5am.

For Christmas Day, Eilidh and Colleen came over for breakfast.  We cooked hashbrowns, poached eggs, BACON and pancakes.  For a beverages, we tasted the Turkish winter hot drink salep, a milky, gummy liquid heated and sprinkled with cinnamon, and coffee from my new coffee maker.

Our Christmas Day junk food.  Oreos courtesy of the US Embassy.

Eilidh and I had a lovely Christmas day afternoon of munching junk food, watching movies, sipping mulled wine and rolling too-soft-of-consistency truffles.

All in all, it was a great holiday and even though I wasn't with my own family, my foreign family made Christmas great.


  1. Kirbie...Pictures are great as always. Glad you had a great Christmas and made the best of not being home. I really miss you not being here. It's just not the same. Hopefully next year you will be here with Dad Colin Katie and I, snuggled on the couch, watching your cooking shows and doing our boxing day shopping together in Moncton. Miss you "K". Love MOM

  2. What a good sport!!! So glad you had your friends to make things a little special for you !!! Love ya Babe!!!

  3. You are quite a girl, Kirbie! Glad you had a good Christmas, and I hope you have everything your heart desires in 2011.
    Love Aunt Leola

  4. Thanks girls! I actually had a really great helped being in a country where Christmas really isn't celebrated, I don't feel like I missed out. New Years is supposed to be the big celebration here, so I'll write a blog about New Years in Turkey next week :)

    Hope your Christmases were just as lovely :)

  5. Hi Kirbie,
    I came across with your blog, when I was browsing about the Forty-Nine, LOL... People say that Ankara is such a boring place, on the contrary there are many things to do and see in this modest city. It is in our hands to make life more interesting and I guess you achieve that. I am glad that you have great time in my country and in Bilkent.

    Warm regards,