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I seem to go through regular phases here. One minute I am as fit as a fiddle, then the next I seem to catch whatever is blowing in the wind. A friend once pointed out ‘you catch every bloody thing except a dolmus’! Funny man!

A couple of years ago, I had the misfortune of a very nasty bout of food poisoning. I certainly hadnt counted on a repeat performance quite so soon but I guess I should have avoided the bbq a couple of weeks ago!

Same routine as before. Murat and Crazy Uncle take me to the Devlet, they give me an injection in my bum and try to send me home with a prescription. I burst into tears.  Crazy Uncle does not like to see me cry so he starts to have a tizzy, Murat screws the prescription into a ball and throws it on the floor and we head over to the Poliklinik.  At the mention of “food poisoning by chicken”, they take us seriously and I am escorted to one of the little rooms at the back of the clinic where they hook me up to a drip and an army of anitibiotics are dispatched who’s mission it is to seek and destroy.  Two bags later and I have stopped retching.

I spend 4 days horizontal at home after that, feeling very weak and eating nothing other than soup.

As soon as I am upright, I realise my tastebuds have changed somewhat, probably through fear I think!  Coffee has been abandoned, meat is not on the menu, I wont even say the word “C H I C K E N” let alone eat the stuff and I am now, for all intents and purposes, a vegetarian, my diet consisting entirely of fruit, vegetables, rice and pulses.

Strange as it seems, to anyone that knows me, I have been spending time in the kitchen. People tend to assume that when I say ‘ I belong to the school of dont cook wont cook’ I actually mean that I can’t cook. But thats not exactly true and as much as Id like to reinforce that assumption, it would be a bit of an insult to my dear old  Grandad who taught me the mysteries of the kitchen and every combo of meat and 3 veg known to man.

As pastry is also off the menu, I have not made any of my ‘bubble and squeek’ boreks which went down rather well with the girls last year.  Instead, I whip up a batch of Falafel, and some creamy Tzatziki to accompany them.

This period of vegitarianism coincides with the month of Ramazan and we are expected at the village for Iftar every night. I always feel very guilty as I have not taken part in oruc and dont feel I should be feasting quite so much at the call from the mosque. ‘At least this year I can contribute’ I think. So I take a batch of Falafel with me and present it to Murats Mum who looks at me like Im from a different planet. Ive been going to the village weekly for 4 years now and this is the first time I have taken an offering made by my own fair hands!

They are quite used to this from their ‘Yabanci Gelin’ so now I have compeltely thrown them. I must let them know I do not intend on making a habit of this!  Ayfare and Ramzier ask me what it is and we have a lot of fun trying to get them to say ‘Falafel’.

It only really dawns on me then that there are probably a lot of foods the family would like but have never had the opportunity to try. I mean, it goes without saying they are not going to like toad in the hole or steak and kidney pudding but we Europeans are not limited by geography to our cooking skills are we?.  Foods from around the world are easily replicated in our kitchens, exotic ingredients are in abundance in our supermarkets and we can pretty much suit ourselves as to what country we conjour up on our stoves each evening.

I doubt I could tempt the family with the food of my youth like pie mash and liquor, liver and bacon with onion gravy or faggots, peas pudding and boiled ham. Although they may well be tempted by some of the atrocities my Grandad kept in the fridge which half the time looked like it belonged to Jeffery Dahma. Id open the door and there in all its naked glory would be a moist brown tongue sitting on a plate or flesh toned pigs trotters slithering aruond in jelly, not forgetting all those weird and wonderful innards (offal? yes absolutely!).

I dare say this too will be a phase I go through but for the time being, my oven is enjoying its time in the spotlight, my body is reaping the rewards of the vitamins and minerals and my family are getting a a taste of the outside world. Food for thought eh?