My Life, My Liver

Written by Katie Parla on September 3, 2009


Canım ciğerim (my life, my liver), might sound like an alcoholic’s mantra, but it is, instead, a Turkish term of endearment. It is one of the many colloquial phrases I have learned this week and, strangely, it is the only one that does involve a midwife getting screwed. As troubling as that fact has been for me, that is what I get for asking about Turkish insults.

The much tamer canım ciğerim is both a sweet nothing and the name of a famous kebab shop in Asmalımescit (a district of Beyoğlu in Istanbul) that serves delicasies from Mersin. I ate there last night with my friend Can, whose knowledge of Istanbul food culture is encyclopedic, so I knew it would be great. It was.

The menu is simple. Choose from meat moresels (çöp şiş) or bits of liver grilled over charcoal as the Usta (Master) slices and dices tomatoes, onions, and parsely into a spreadable paste flavored with lemon juice pomegranate syrup, and spices. The salad, called gavurdağı, is slathered on to the paper thin lavaş the meat and liver is served with. Use a lavaş (or better yet, 2) to pull the meat or liver off the skewers, add some onion, parsley, cumin, and a spritz of lemon, then try to eat just one.

Big ups to Can for taking me here.

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