Almost Fearless

Breakfast in Beyoğlu


The Turkish breakfast is habit-forming. You pop into an adorable little café, pick up a menu and there it is. For $6 or maybe $8, you can order a spread of food to feed your entire family. Or at least my family, with the two little ones we have yet to eat it all.


My companions have adjusted to their new surroundings quickly. Here Stella is reading an art magazine. (Photo taken just before I delicately removed said magazine before she ripped out pages, chewed on it or used it to swat her glass of juice off the table. I mean she’s good, but she’s still just shy of two.)


Cole, even when not feeling well, has reluctantly accepted that every morning we get up, put on pants (why, mama, why?) and march around in the cold and rain until pushing into some dim nook to collapse into the warm embrace of overstuffed chairs and space heaters. I always order çay (pronounced like “chai” but not to be confused with that spiced tea) but on this day they told me it would take 10 minutes to prepare (oh dear no) so I opted for Turkish coffee instead, which is bitter and strong.

Then quickly, it is upon you.


It’s multiple cheeses, dried fruits and nuts, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, mushrooms and olives. Then there’s jams and spreads, always fig, often strawberry or some other fruit, and something with tahini. Butter and honey.


This morning there’s grilled halloumi, some mozzarella like cheese that’s sold in the market in knotted bunches and a soft fresh cheese that’s as salty as feta.


Something extra, a zucchini stuffed savory pastry. Is it a gözleme? It’s only after we leave that I realize I have no idea what it was called, so I’m left to search online for clues.


It doesn’t hurt that I also love the design sensibility of the city. A haven for bookish cat lovers who drink too much tea.


And often, these empty little restaurants are like wandering into a friend’s living room, finding a seat and making yourself at home.


So, naturally, I have to try them all.

Christine Gilbert

I’ve been dragging my husband around the world since 2008 always with the promise that, “Yes, Drew there will definitely be hammocks there.”