Oh Jack Bushy

Having had an embarrassing number of different career incarnations, I was a very late entrant to the world of food. It astonished me to discover just how hard kitchen staff must work. It is not just the job itself, but working long hours, always on your feet in a very hot environment under huge time pressure makes it one of the most difficult jobs in the world.
To me, Turkey has one of the great cuisines of this world, as I very happily rediscovered on a recent trip. Everything from the simplest Street Food to the most elaborate Fine Dining is done so well by the Turks. It was so interesting to me to discover their perception that because the people of Kas, a beautiful town on the South Coast, have only moved from the mountains to the seaside in the last 50 to 100 years, they do not yet really understand the cooking of fish! They distinguish between the olives of the West and the olives of other areas, and (rightly) rate the spices of the regions bordering Syria as being far superior to any other.
But what impressed me, above all else, was a trip to a restaurant cooking Ocakbasi (pronounced Oh Jack Bushy) style. Apologies for the photograph – I had drink taken! So, this is a very long specially constructed barbecue, where the chefs sit on stools slowly and carefully cooking each item in a very relaxed, convivial atmosphere looking out towards the diners. I couldn’t help but wish some of this for my tireless and faithful crew back home they are very far removed from cooking in such delightful conditions and under the very admiring and appreciative eyes of their guests. It hugely added to the pleasure of an already sumptuous meal. Oh, and if you get an opportunity to eat green olives in basil oil, stuffed with fresh walnuts, dive head first into the plate.


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