Of all places in Turkey so far, the city of Çanakkale (Cha-na-ka-luh) has made the biggest impression on Andrew and me. This college town is located on the coast of the Dardanelles Strait on the Asian continent with friendly people, beautiful views, a traditional aura and food that blows your mind. When we first arrived, it was raining, but that did not deter us from braving it to get the infamous bomba (Figure 1) in town.
This sandwich is made right on the spot by first cracking an egg on a flat top grill (Figure 2) and then placing some pepperonis on top (Figure 3).
Some places even put a couple slices of cheese on top. Once done, it is placed into a sandwich (half size or full) with lettuce, tomatoes, onions and pickles then topped off with ketchup and a light mayo. This simple yet delectable and filling combination for only 2 Turkish lira!!!
And for dessert, the only problem is choosing where to go since every other shop is a different bakery with an assortment of delicacies. My favorite, though, has its origin in Çanakkale: peynir helvasi. This sweet is actually a mix of cheese, yolk, sugar and semolina. It comes in two forms: baked (Figure 4) and unbaked (Figure 5). I definitely prefer the baked peynir helvasi since it has a semi-crispy texture on the outside but a sweet, gooey interior.
Another dessert worth trying are the lemon meringues (Figure 6), usually sold in threes for 1 lira. I normally do not enjoy lemon meringues in the US, but here, I fell in love with this sugar-filled dessert. These meringues are sold fresh, and the lemons used to make them are some of the freshest I’ve ever had.
After dinner (or lunch, although the scenery and atmostphere is much better at night), take a walk up the shore starting at the southern end. Stop to watch the fishermen night fish (Figure 7) while sitting at one of the coastal restaurants with some Turkish tea (Figure 8). Turkish tea is extremely strong, so it is normally diluted half and half.
Then continue walking up, and you will come to the awesome Trojan horse (Figure 9) that was actually in Troy, the movie!
- If you are ever in Çanakkale, make sure you get the bomba since it’s really only sold here.
- Try both the baked and unbaked peynir helvasi and decide which one you enjoy more.
- Turkish tea is strong, so unless you enjoy straight up black tea, add a couple of sugar cubes.
- Use your time here to relax and truly enjoy the Turkish culture that you don’t really get in touristy Istanbul.