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Recently I have been to Madrid, Oporto, Geneva, Milan, Rome, Israel. You would think most of  those places would have decent airport food. That’s what I was looking for, just decent food, some “hold me over” sustenance. And quite frankly in those places, well, that’s only what I found. And then there’s Istanbul, Turkey where I was only passing through- but this time I wasn’t looking for food to sustain me, I wasn’t hungry at all.  Yet like any good foodie I was lured to the food court’s by the siren song. And it was a food court with the usual Burger King, Popeye’s and ….a not so usual ‘Turkcuisine.’

OMG! The bakery got me started. Look at those pastries! And Turkish ice cream! And then I found the Turkish fast food court. I was almost hysterical when I saw the assortment of foods. Darn! I knew I had a delicious dinner on the docket in Tel Aviv that evening, knew I wasn’t hungry enough to eat right then, but it was a “know no bounds” moment. I wound up spending $40 on a most delicious lunch that I had no room for! (Does that make me a human equivalent of a foie gras goose?)

They make the “pizza” dough right at the station where you get your cheese pie. It is the Turkish equivalent of a tarte flambé from Alsace. The cheese was slightly tangy and was a perfect texture for melting on flatbread. The assorted appetizers display had everyone in line grumbling at me because I just couldn’t fit all of it on one plate and didn’t want to have to choose. I dithered and then crammed as much as I could on my small plate.

We got to the main food station and the young chef in charge (who has to be the son of Seinfeld’s soup Nazi) kept the line moving fast demanding to know your order. You almost felt like you were going to get a pass/fail grade by the time you ordered. The chefs by the way, were real chefs, spotlessly dressed, very professional and proud of their food. These are chefs at a cafeteria line at the airport, next to the Popeye’s and Burger King. Lord, be praised!

The dried beans with meat in a tomato sauce were among the best I have ever eaten. The stuffed Dolmas…well yes, I have eaten better but it didn’t keep me from wolfing them down. Next on the line, I spot a samovar, a tip off that desserts are next. Baklava heaven! I took one pistachio and one walnut. I am on a sugar high as I write this. Maybe it’s not the sugar. This is an airport after all. If you can pass through Istanbul en route to some exotic land, heed this advice…save your appetite! (By the way Turkish Airlines has my vote for best airline food.)

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