Behind Sarıyer Börek

I feel petty writing this one. It’s a minor point, and I know it’s going to sound worse in the telling than the actual thing which was, as I remember it, a nice morning.

My boyfriend liked börek, I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t. He favoured su böreği which is the one I liked least as it is wetter and doesn’t have the flaky pastry part which is the best bit. This kind of börek always has white cheese in it and su means water so it makes sense that it’s wetter.

Su, by the way, is almost impossible to say right if you’re foreign with a native tongue that doesn’t distinguish between ü and u. The most ubiquitous word, basic life depends on it, but I was never understood ordering water. “Çay?” the waiter would often ask, going for the next most common order. That (chai) really sound the closest to what I was trying to say? Anyway, I don’t think that’s why su böreği was my least favourite.

So, historical meat and currant börek wasn’t of any particular interest for him as it was a) different and b) involved a trip outside his usual haunts. In fairness, it was a bloody long way and we went on a Monday, his day off, by car which means a really long drive all the way along the Bosphorus.

It was nice of him to take me there on his one day off a week just to indulge my tourist proclivities. Especially since he didn’t even eat the meat börek but stuck with his usual.

Except, it wasn’t just some regular outing – we didn’t go on many of those – I’d won the trip in a game of cards. This trick was one I used often. We were both competitive and gamblers by nature and having some stakes made games or bets more fun. We both always honoured our debts too and were not bad losers.

In this way I once won a great pair of jeans when I challenged him to stop hawking up in the shower because it was disgusting. He bet that he could and then  forgot within my hearing.

I sometimes won sex where I wouldn’t have to reciprocate. That was mostly all he ever played for on his part. We occasionally played for who would have to make breakfast but so immersed was I in my 1950s housewife role that I would feel bad if he did anything in the kitchen and end up doing it. Apart from the time he lost and had to cook for me and made mediocre fish.

I wondered later if a better way to have approached the whole military service, 18 months away would have been for him to bet me that I couldn’t wait. Instead we both lost.


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