Those of you who know Turkish know what I am about to say. For those of you who don't...let me give you a quick Turkish lesson. But first some background info...
I love soup. Pretty much any kind of soup. I have tried numerous kinds of soup in Turkey, and for the most part I have enjoyed them all. Sometimes they might be a little too oily for me. Or maybe a little too sour in the case of a yogurt based soup. But I can usually add some red pepper or salt or bread to help even out the taste.
There was one special Turkish soup I had never tried despite having lived in Turkey for 6 years. Iskembe soup. I had seen it on the menus at several restaurants. I just never wanted to order it. There were always soups I knew I would love so I never had the urge to try it. Well, to be completely honest, I was scared to try it. I knew what was in it. I had heard people who seemed to eat anything say it tasted terrible. I figured that there would come a day when I wouldn't have a choice...a day where I would be served Iskembe soup, and I would just have to eat it. That day came yesterday. Kind of.
On our trip up to the Black Sea we stopped for lunch in a town that was known for it's chef school. We were hoping for awesome food. The restaurant we chose happened to have a broken oven so their menu was quite limited. We could have soup or grilled meat. Or both. I ordered some cracked wheat and tomato soup. It came and was just as good as I thought it would be. A little bit spicy. A lot of yummy! When the waiter brought my soup he also brought a bowl of Iskembe soup, the special Turkish soup. Now I must say that nobody at our table ordered Iskembe soup. We weren't quite sure why he brought it to us. But hey...it was at our table. It was really cheap so I decided I would try it. Surely it couldn't be as bad as everyone said.
I mean look at it. It looks like it might have a chicken broth base. There is meat...kind of. Surely I, the lover of soup, can at least handle taking one bite of this soup. I took a bite.
Disgusting! This is the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted in my life. And I am completely serious! I swallowed the tiny spoonful I put in my mouth and tried not to gag. I drank water. I ate bread. I ate bites of everything else on the table to try to purge that flavor from my mouth. It wouldn't leave me. Brian had planned to take a bite as well. That is until he watched my reaction to it. He decided to just smell it instead. He said "that smells like a barn." And that is exactly what it tasted like. Like a barn filled with stinky, sweaty cows. I took a bite of stinky, sweaty cow barn soup. Yuck.
Oh...and the reason I had always steered clear of it before was because the main ingredient in Iskembe soup is what we might call tripe...or cow stomach.
So here is the Turkish lesson I promised. Iskembe means cow stomach...or stinky, sweaty cow barn soup. Remember that!