Friday, October 27, 2006

B(ooks) & B(ayram) ~Ç

Illustration is from )
I had a quite relaxing week, after the tiring days of working and travelling from/to Ankara... So when I read your efforts to learn French and do some shopping I felt tired even while i was reading....

After you wrote the details about Russian grammer, even French seemed quite easy... I discovered through National Center for Language that:

There are 422 words in current Turkish from Greek, 14 words from Rumca ( i don't understand the difference it is either politic or etimologic may be meaning from Pontus language, ancient Greek?) and 40 from Russian! Borç (borrowed money), izbe ( very old and bad conditioned place) haraşo ( basic knitting stitch) are from that 40... I don't know how they are written in Cyrill alphabet, but i am going to start with them when i will come there... :)

Books, books... Christos already celebrated Orhan Pamuk's Nobel prize.. The attitudes towards him quite mixed, like mine... I liked his one of the first books, cannot read one, read one of the best-sellers in a very bad mood etc. So I am trying to make my mind too about his writing mastery....

However, i myself started some kind of writing process: Writing for kids! First i registered to a "Children Literature" course in Bilgi University and also i am in a kind of enterpreneur for children books.... Have i already mentioned it to you?

And Ramadan Bayram is over... We call in daily - language as "Şeker Bayramı" Sugar/Candy Bayram which radicals don't like... However our "Bayram"s are really sweet, special sweets are prepared, candies and chocolates offered to visitors... For this Bayram, we cooked sarma, "şekerpare", "güllaç" and "trufle". I will give the recipe for Güllaç, as i promised in the previous post...

Good Luck / Bonne chance / İyi şanslar (For Greek and Russian, i have to study<<<)

Monday, October 23, 2006

A Mega Adventure at the MEGA Mall

Last Saturday I had the brilliant idea of going to one of the 3 malls that are just out Moscow's MKAD, i.e. the 3rd ring road. One can take the metro to almost the last stop and then take a mall bus. I had done all my reasearch - and optimization ;-) - beforehand on two of the malls, regarding exact location and instructions of how to get there. I had been to one of them already and decided to try the other. It looked more convenient, as the bus ride after the metro stop was shorter. The web site - in English and with a lot of information - was saying that one would not have to wait for the bus for more than 15 minutes.

I suggested the idea to a new friend of mine, Evelyn, an Irish girl who is spending the year working in Moscow. She found it good and joined me. We met at 10 am and went happily to the mall. Indeed, we did not have to wait at all on the way there. The bus was full of people, but we did not experience any trouble. We walked, shopped, we had coffee and a long chat, had lunch, crossed IKEA at a leasurely pace - I decided on what I need to buy for my new apartment - we had lunch at IKEA - where I met someone I knew (what are the chances of that in a city of 12 million people!!!!) and then got to Achan. There we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of people in the store! I have neven seen so many people in a store, not even in America, in the big supermarkets and not even in Houston's Auchan which was bigger than this.

Anyway, after we finished shopping, we went back to the bus stop to get the bus back to the metro station. It was already 5:30 or so in the evening. Well, that's were the adventure started. Firstly, all the roads as far as the eye could see were totally blocked by traffic. We could see the bus coming, but it took more than 20 minutes to reach us, due to the traffic. Then, there were SO many people at the bus stop! We could get on the first bus but just as we were ready to, someone blocked the door and his friend from behind us started passing to him the contents of two big supermarket carts in plastic bags! The available space in the bus was filled with the supermarket bags and we stayed out of the bus. The lady who was in front of us insisted on staying on the bus. She was half inside and half outside the door, while the driver was trying to close the door! After many attempts the door closed behind her - and left her in one piece thankfully!

To make a long story short, Evelyn and I waited for another hour or so for the next bus, and then the next.... Did I mention that it was drizzling and it was cold? Anyway, we could not get on any bus, because once a bus would stop and open its doors (not all stopped, although they were empty), a huge force - the crowd - was pushing us and we could not fight back. There was no way of even getting close to the bus door!

Evelyn had suggested early on to walk to the metro station. I was not enthusiastic about it, since I knew that we could reach the metro station only after walking on the highway. But after loosing all hope that we could get on the bus with all our bones intact, we decided to start walking. In fact, many people were walking out of the mall and on the highway. We followed them and even managed to clarify where the metro station was...

So, the two of us carrying the shopping bags started walking (THANKFULLY, I kept myself and did not buy all the things I wanted to get, so we did not have to carry that much).... through the mall parking lot, onto the MKAD, at night, under the light drizzle, crossing the entrance and exit ramps, moving in between the cars, which were moving slowly due to the traffic conditions... we were on the shoulder of the highway when we realized that a bus was also moving on the shoulder of the highway, and passed just next to us! Fortunately, there was just enough room for us and for the bus! Closer to the metro station there were proper sidewalks. It was great to walk on the sidewalk, even if it was full of ditches with mud. But, we soon realized that a mini bus was behind us, moving on the side walk!

Our adventure lasted for about 15-20 minutes. We arrived at the metro station safe but very tired! We cancelled all of plans for the rest of the evening and each of us headed for our residences. I collapsed in the bathtub and then slept immediately!

Every time I'll look at my beautiful green handbag and my red snow boots, I'll remember this day!

The sheer number of people here is overwhelming! It is impossible to imagine that simple situations are so difficult here, just because of the crowds.

As my nephew said to me yesterday, as a comment to the letter I wrote to him: "Aunt, when you I read in your letter that Moscow has as many people as the whole of Greece, I fainted!"

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It's Tough to Learn Russian!!!!

Today I had one of my two weekly Russian classes. As I said to the teacher before we started, it's a torture both for me and I think for her as well! I think that I am good at languages - I speak four already. One would assume that it'll not be such a big issue to learn covnersational Russian. I don't have higher aspirations that that! Just to be able to communicate in every day life. Well, I am not sure I'll manage any time soon! Of course, it is much more difficult to concentrate now then it was years ago, when I was studying the other languages. But still! I am putting in the effort. I study. I write the exercises twice. To no avail, so far. This language is SO difficult!!! A Russian colleague confirmed the other day that Russian is probably the second most diffucult language, after Chinese! He was saying this to console me probably, but I am more disappointed since then!

Just to give you a flavour of what I have to face! Firstly, there are two forms of plural for the nouns (I am not sure this is true for all the nouns, but it does not matter...). The first form of plural applies when you are talking about 2, 3 or 4 things, people, etc - or number of things, people etc. that end in 2, 3 and 4, for example 24, 43, .... The second form of plural applies when you are talking about 5, 6, .... up till 20 and then about 30, 40, .... anything ending in 5, 6 or zero. What is the logic behind this???????? It beats me, really! And to make things worse, the terminations of the nouns are not consistent. The words change form in different ways!

Today I learned that there are 6 (SIX!!!!!!) cases for the nouns! In Russian there is still dative case, which was dropped from the Greek language long ago. I'll accept that, as I can understand the meaning and use of the dative (I am still assuming the underlying philosophy will be the same as in Greek, I may fall from the clouds next Monday, when Daria - my teacher - will explain what the Russian dative case is...). The worse part is that there are two cases which depend on the preposition after the verb and before the noun!!!!! In other words, if you put "with" before the noun, then the form is different from the form when you put "in" before it!!!!!!

And the last example, if you are not already convinced: there is only one past tense - I felt some relief when I heard it, as in Italian and in French the past tense is especially difficult. But the terminations of the verb in the past tense do not depend on the personal pronoun! They depend on the gender of the person!!!!!!!!!! In other words, the expression "I thought" has two forms, depending on whether "I" is female or male! What is the logic behind that!!!!

Anyway, it's a real struggle!

Monday, October 16, 2006

It's the Time for Trahano!

It is cold today! In the morning when I woke up at 6:30 it was -1oC and when I got out of the hotel it was 0oC! On the way to work I saw very few tiny snow flakes, probably the frozen humidity in the atmosphere. I already bought two pairs of boots for the snow - the apres ski type, not elegant at all, but warm and not slippery, which is all I care about at this point!

Well, as I have been saying, I am very comfortable at the hotel. But since it start getting really cold, I really miss the possibility to make a hot trahano soup (tarhana, for you). So, I thought that trahano is a good topic for today's post. For one more reason: as a warm greeting to my friend Artemis, who is going through some difficult times but I am sure she'll come out stronger than before! Artemis was the one who took me to the north part of Cyprus and showed to me all the places she knew from her childhood. I'll send our blog link to her, so she can follow our conversation from London where she'll spend the winter. And I thank her for "having me with her" yesterday, while she was watching Haroula in concert in London.... I wish I was really there!

Among all the things we analyzed (to death, probably) with Tijen and you last August, was the topic of trahano, which is a dish that I absolutely love and could live upon! I always have the taste of trahano that my yiayia was often cooking on the stove for us for supper in winter! In Cyprus there is yet another version of trahana, made with wheat and sour milk or yogurt (I think), which one can eat also as a biscuit without cooking. The first time I tasted it was at Artemis' house, on her birthday, a few years ago. She had invited a lot of friends - as usual, since she is one of the most social people I have ever met - and cooked as a first dish trahana with vegetables. I don't remember the rest of the menu, I am sure everything was delicious. But the trahana was unforgettable! It ended up creamy and full of taste, somewhat sour from the trahana. Since then, I tasted the trahana cooked with chicken stock - made by Mrs. Loula, another really great cook - but I prefer Artemis' version and I am always cooking the Cypriot with vegetables myself!

Well, I have with me TWO types of trahana: the Cypriot one - I could not leave it behind, when I emptied my apartment - and the red one Tijen bought for me at Asso.... Most probably, the first two dishes that I'll cook in my apartment will be trahana!

As I said, I'll send the link of our blog to Artemis and also to Yekaterina, another new friend I met here in Moscow. We had a great dinner and a long chat at the Japanese restuarant yesterday!

Regarding the photos, I am glad you liked them! I totally forgot to tell Christo to "censor" them so that I could hide the pictures of the patterns from you ;-)

Windows and doors are two of my favourite subjects! And in Aivali, there were SO many interesting ones! Did you like the picture of the yellow window and door you ordered while we were in Moshonissi?

I wanted to say for a long time but I forgot: please send my greetings to Sherife for Ramadan and in general!

And speaking of Sherife and remembering the copper coffee irbiks, I have to tell you that I found and bought some excellent pieces of old copper kitchen pots and other utensils... most of them are from the end of the 19th century! I am delighted and can't wait to put them in my kitchen... Pictures coming soon, once I have a computer!

Enough for now! I am going to the gym!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Have got my mail! ~Ç

When i came back last night to home, i found the envelope from Christos - photo CDs! I just looked at them and i loved your photos, how much detail you caught. Incredible!

I found this picture very artistic ( since it is 2 MB i can't load to the blog, this is less colored / impressionist version) and thought to have a very big one on the wall...

And, you have taken many windows and doors photos which we can make a beautiful collage.

PS. Don't ever assume that I didn't realize the samples you have taken from my Anchor magazines :P... [ I didn't make copied them for you :(( ]

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Notes from the internet cafe!

Your last two posts were lovely! I wish I could drop by for a weekend to accompany you to the bazars and restaurants!

And to know personally a second food writer! This is unfair!!!!!!! This was my first reaction! But then I thought I am fortunate because you introduce me too to your foodwriter friends.

I'll check all the web sites when I move into the apartment. I want to send you the electronic collection of recipes and books I have on turkish cuisine and we'll discuss - I am sure!

Speaking of bazars, I will always remember your mother's expression when she saw all the collanders I bought from Havran market, and her question: "don't they have them in Greece?" I have to tell you that I forgot in Christos' car the wooden spatula for turning the bread in the wood oven. And as I was writing these words, I read an email from him asking me whether there will be a wood oven in my new apartment in Moscow!!!

Letter from ΧΡΗΣΤΟΣ to Çiğdem




Thank you very much for the pencil case.

1 October 2006


(this is one of the first two electronic letters he wrote; it has many orthographical mistakes, so don't copy the greek; notice also the date! he writes his name correctly, though)

Sunday, October 08, 2006

I have another friend who is a food writer :) Ç

(Photograph from the website

As you see i am very motivated to write :)

Last night i attended a book-launch, and i felt very intellectual and very New Yorker ( in all movies there is bookstore scene, well OK... in romantic comedies). The co-author is the sister of a closed friend of mine, the venue is an old building in Bebek - in Bosphorus-, in veranda of the bookstore... Since it is Ramadan, i didn't drink any wine, but it was place for it.. Özge, the author she is academician in Food History and the book on 19th century Ottoman Cuisine. She and the other writer also they run a kind of institute in İstanbul: İstanbul Food Workshop. They adapted the recipes to today with full of very nice pictures.

As a very interesting coincidence, i had a chance to taste one of trials it is helva with musk and rose water, very special one... Wait for soon, the English copy is coming!

And Katerina will be a celebrity for Turkish food community next month, since October matches Ramadan- this issue of Lezzet Magazine is fully Ramadan theme.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

"Ramazan Geldi, Hoş Geldi" - Welcome to Ramadan ~Ç

I am ashamed when I've read both Tijen's and Christo's comments; since even i am miserably lazy to write even a comment! So, flash news of the last one month, let's say since our immigration from Burhaniye...

  • Renovation at home: new kitchen cupboards are ordered for our old warehouse-kitchen; painting is continued.
  • The holy Ramadan month started! I love the warm atmosphere of this month, fasting, family iftar dinners, iftar dinners with friends, mosques with Mahyas, Karagöz & Hacıvat, "Ramazan pidesi" and Güllaç ( wait for my own recipe ;). I am all of the rest fun part of Ramadan, except the essence - fasting. This year my first trial resulted with disaster, i serioulsy became sick of headache and then v----ting :((
  • I started a project in Ankara. I am quite excited to arrange sometime for me in Ankara to visit my Mekkas: Akdeniz, Akdeniz ( Mediterrenean, Mediterrenan) a lovely restorant, Şıkdüğme - a fantastic hobby shop, Samanpazarı - fleamarket and if i succeed two suburbs- Nallıhan (the one famous with needle laces)and Beypazarı
  • I discovered this two blogs and fascinated by them and i believe you - you and Kalliopi, maybe Maria- like it. However I've doubts about Christos, Tijen: Crochetroo and Thimble .
  • And finally i would like to greet your father from here, I loved the idea he follows our blog :)

До скорого!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Apartment Hunting

Hello from Moscow!

I apologize to everyone for not keeping in touch frequently, but I still haven't moved into an apartment yet and hence, don't have easy access to personal email. I've started looking at apartments only this week. Moscow offers the biggest variety in apartment style and quality I have ever seen in any country I've lived in. Most apartments are furnished. I must confess that most of the times the style is not to my taste - I would say it is quite opposite than my taste! Additionally, one can find the strangest layouts and decorations.

Yesterday I saw a nicely furnished apartment, which had a study room with wood panels on the walls, green wall paper and decorations in between, Victorian style desk and book cases and a large iron safe! The apartment overall was very nice, but I was wondering who could use this room nowadays!

In any case, I decided to look for apartments in old buildings - called pre-revolutionary or early century (meaning 20th century of course). They usually have high ceilings, larger rooms, thick walls and wooden parquet floors. The window sills are so wide, that one can put cushions and create a little corner to sit and read.

I found 3-4 that are really nice and am thinking of renting one of them. Of course, one important factor is whether the apartment has enough space for my books and my kitchen utensils. The best one I saw so far is 5 minutes walk from my office, relally lovely but my books and kitchen stuff would not fit. I tried to think every possible way to fit in there, but today I decided that it is not big enough!

Anyway, I hope I'll get settled soon - it'll be after October 25th. Then I'll have internet, skype, email, etc... and I'll be fully on line!

On Monday I start Russian lessons!