Saturday, March 24, 2012

150 km for Fresh Fish

There are two bike groups here in town. One group is generally younger and has fewer smokers. The other group is a mixture of ages but generally makes more tea, smoke and potty stops. Yesterday I joined the younger group because they were headed to Surgu, a place I'd heard mentioned for it's delicious fresh fish restaurant. I have to admit the idea of 150km round trip in one day gave me nightmares. But the idea of an adventure plus fresh fish was enough to
make my not bow out.
(rooster welcomes us a the first tea stop)

Let me stress by saying this was not an easy ride. It was all Turkish highway. That means we had a shoulder which is good, but we also had tons of tractor trailers each equipped with their own specially installed horns honking at us the entire trip. Theses were honks of
"hello" and some of the tones made me laugh, but they do detract from the natural beauty and serenity of the Taurus (I think) mountains. We had donkey carts filled to the brim with manure on the way to fertilize the "world famous" Malatya apricots on this warm and sunny day. We had about 45 km uphill going to the restaurant with a climb in elevation of about 500 m. We had a big tea stop at kilometer 27 and then no trees, gas stations, gulleys, rock outcroppings, or hiding places for the next 44. (The young, fast boys chose this as our second stop. Notice the lack of bathrooms.There were several houses and lots of people staring at us.)

When we arrived at Surgu (kilometer 71) my heart sank when I saw the shack( a.k.a fish restaurant) on the side of the road. I forced a big smile and prayed that I wouldn't get sick after eating. I found the WC
behind the kitchen and things began to look up. Even though it was aTurkish toilet, I was thrilled to see that it was very clean and there was a sink with running water, soap and paper towels. I joined my fellow bikers who were now basking in the sun and enjoying the 360 degree view of the snow capped mountains and tractor trailers parked in front of the restaurant. It was almost like sitting at the top of Telluride on a great spring skiing day only instead of sipping a beer we were sipping more tea. It was another "pinch myself, I can't believe I'm here in Turkey" moment.

After all 13 bikers arrived, the wife and son of the family set the table for us.The table was lovely. I was impressed by the little touches she made to make this a special meal.
glasses, plates and serving dishes all showed
evidence that this family put a lot of pride in their business. Thoughts of my mom's words, "It's all in the presentation" flashed through my head. A few minutes later the delicious food arrived: fresh greens, mixed salad, hot pita, fresh lemons, homemade relish tray, and steaming hot, fresh grilled fish. In typical Turkish style we ate (more like inhaled) the meal in silence. When the plates were cleared and the next pot of tea and fresh fruit were served the conversation resumed.

After paying our 7tl (about $4) for the meal, we rode home energized by the food and grateful that it was mostly downhill. (Family business owners)

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