When I told people I was moving to Istanbul, one of the standard responses – to my utter surprise – was: “Oh no, you’re going to miss bacon.” Seriously, miss bacon? I’m moving half a continent away to a country with an entirely different cultural and religious background and you’re worried about me missing bacon? Not going to happen. Unfortunately, I now have to eat my words. Sort of.
The hubby and I were convinced we wouldn’t miss pork in Turkey. We giggled at people’s concern about the lack of bacon. We don’t eat bacon, anyway, was our normal response. Bacon is an American thing and we’re Europeans, darn it! Okay, not really. I mean, yeah, my husband is Dutch born and bred, but I grew up in the Midwest, home of the free and the brave and bacon-filled.
And we were moving to Turkey from Germany. In case you don’t know, Germans love pork. Like, really, really, really love pork. The variety and amount of pork products at the grocery store butcher absolutely astounded me when we first arrived. I’m pretty sure my actual response was to tell the butcher: “Oh my god, that’s a lot of pork!”
We headed off to Istanbul thinking we wouldn’t be feeling the loss of pork products whatsoever. And initially, we didn’t – not much, at least. The first thing that somewhat bothered us was the lack of pork lunch meat. I love ham on my lunch sandwiches. One thing most people don’t realize about Muslim countries, however, is that they have tons of ‘fake’ pork products. Ham and salami made from beef products instead of pork. We can totally deal with this.
Until we couldn’t. Sure, it’s great to have an alternative for typical pork products, but they’re just not the same. Pork is greasy but beef? Not so much. Just try substituting a beef sausage for bratwurst. Mmm… bratwurst with a bit of spicy mustard. Sorry, got a bit distracted there.
It started with me ordering saté whenever I was in the Netherlands visiting family and friends. In case you don’t know saté is a ‘Dutch’ food which originated from Indonesia.
As the months turned into years, ordering saté once during a four-day break turned into demanding “anything you have with pork” at every meal. In fact, I just finished traveling for three weeks and I nearly got sick from eating so much pork – demanding a pork product at least once a day. So yeah, I have to eat my words about not missing pork. SPOILER ALERT: The Turkey portion of my expat life is nearly over and I won’t be missing pork where we’re headed. Stay tuned…