• Koula, 94.7 presenter and F&HE blogger, is loving all things food-related in her travels through Turkey, Greece, Italy and Israel…

    Saturday 18 August

    Early start. Left hotel at 4:15am to catch a flight to Mardin – capital city of the Mardin province and known as a city of harmony between different languages and religion. The first thing that hits you as you exit the Mardin airport is the heat. It is relentless. Lots of construction with new apartments and hotels popping up along the drive to our hotel (the Yay Grand Otel – love that name!). Agriculture is developing rapidly and Syrian people are returning to Mardin to invest.

    Had lunch at a traditional Turkish cafe. The men in the group drank ayran (homemade yoghurt diluted in water – similar to buttermilk), generally served before the meal. As adventurous as I am with trying different cuisines, I think I met my match with humbar (a stuffing made of rice, meat, parsley and onion but covered with tripe). Just could not bring myself to eat it. Salt and pepper cellars are filled opposite to how we know them. The director asked me to pass him the salt – so I passed the cellar with the single large hole in it to him and he ended up with a small mountain of pepper in his food. Now I know.

    Our first stop after lunch was a nearby Syrian Orthodox Monastery. By now, Mardin’s dry heat was severely affecting me. My hands and feet were swelling and regular stops to catch my breath and wait out dizzy spells were vital. Our tour bus has a minibar, always fully stocked with ice-cold water. Realised in this climate you have to do more than just hydrate – you have to continually take in fluid to prevent heat stroke. 

    After the monastery, we filmed Mardin’s art and historical museum. Our group had grown weary as a result of the early start and busy day and we gulped down dinner and headed to bed ASAP.

    By Serdar Yilgoren