The reviews for Meşhur Adıyaman Çiğ Köftecisi and Ranchero were written for an issue of Time Out Istanbul with the theme of heat. So, I trawled the city for restaurants with some kick and my life for some far more dangerous spice by going to both of them with males who were not my boyfriend.
Heat in your food in Turkey is surprisingly hard to find. While Turkish cuisine is full of spices and flavour, not much of it packs that much heat. The odd things that do are enough to remind your taste buds you used to excite them and Çiğ Köfte tops the list.
My life, of course, with my boyfriend gone and the Crocodile waiting in the wings, had many more levels of fire to go before the heat got Hellish enough to fry me for two and a half years. So I was starting to become braver about having male friends. I was doing it in secret though, so even this innocent thing distorted into something wrong. Maybe I got so used to the lies I needed to tell to have a normal life that it became easier to lie when I started actually crossing the line.
Another self justification but also a warning.
If you have to lie to do things you wouldn’t otherwise see anything wrong with, you’re in the wrong relationship. It’s funny how blindingly obvious these things are as I write them now.
The Meşhur Adıyaman Çiğ Köftecisi review was done with a visiting friend of some girl I now can’t remember. He was an editor in London and we must have got on well enough for me to bring him with me but I remember nothing about him at all. I don’t even remember how I covered up the companionship – probably just by not mentioning it.
The guy I took to Ranchero was a student in my class at the former British Council. Very good looking although I didn’t fancy him, high level and very very motivated about his English in that earnest way that has students staying behind after class to ask grammar questions and really be there to ask grammar questions, not to hit on you. I can’t remember his name now although we used to chat on msn and he would flirt just to practise his lines for his upcoming few months living and studying in London.
Nothing untoward or interesting happened at either meal. I met up with this guy another couple of times over the next year, taking him off msn in the end because he had started to bore me with his constant English questions and his stories when he came back from London were of that really dull kind when you’re waiting for a punch line but, no, the story really had no point.
A bit like this post perhaps. The point of this is only that I was slowly inserting my own way of life into Istanbul life and because I was easily and successfully navigating male relationships, as I knew full well I could, I got overconfident. I knew best. I was going to make the right decisions – albeit dishonestly and somehow I would fold all this away again when my boyfriend came back 12 months in the far off and terrifying future.