The Turkish Connection.

Whenever I’m in the car alone, if I have the presence of mind to turn off Veggie Tales (and there is nothing like the rage of a mommy when she realizes that she’s inadvertently listened to Veggie Tales alone for half an hour), I turn on Spotify and blow my speakers out in the attempt to feel like a teenager again while I’m not breaking my back to repeatedly twist and pick up sippy cups from the floorboard.

On my last journey out, Jason Derulo’s song “Talk Dirty” came on.

It’s a horrible song and I don’t recommend torturing your ears in that manner.

However, the Turkish-esque saxophone solo during the chorus immediately brought back vivid memories of this fantastic night, so I had no choice but to share it with you again.

Originally posted June 5, 2012.


After booking any trip out of town, the first thing that Chris and I do is look for the local Greek restaurant.

I was brought up on Greek food – “Yes you will eat lamb, and you will like it!!”, and I adore it with all of my being. And Chris, being that he is Mister-Perfect-For-Me, has also come to have a great appreciation for the cuisine.

We have found ourselves in Atlanta for one reason or another a lot lately. We usually have our Greek Adventures at Taverna Plaka or Kyma, but on one particular trip, we wanted to try somewhere new.

We wanted a hole in the wall Greek Restaurant – because they tend to be the most genuine. So Chris Urbanspooned it and found one. Turkish AND Greek, but it would do.

(Which, by the way, this has always puzzled me. Seeing as how the Turks and the Greeks hate each other with the ire of a thousand suns, how is it that you can have both under one roof?)

But it definitely looked like a hole in the wall.

Cafe Agora

We ventured out of our comfort zone of known Atlanta and found it – but just barely. It wasn’t wide enough for me to lay down in, not that I’m in the habit of lying down in restaurants.

We parked out front, but didn’t have change for the parking meter. As we were driving up, Parking Enforcement was driving away, so we assumed that it would be in our best interest to procure some change.

I walked into the Café, and an old Turkish man who was obviously the owner was standing at the counter.

“Excuse me – can I get change for these two dollars? We’re trying to park out front.”

He looked shocked…and a little angry.

“No! I will not get you change! You move back and not pay!”

“Um…what do you mean?”

He huffed and ran past me out of the restaurant. He began yelling at Chris.

“You move your car back a space! You see? No parking meter!! They can no make you pay there!!”

Chris and I looked warily at the non-parking space parking space.

Turk grew impatient. “You move your car!!!!”

Chris obeyed, which began our descent into nervousness about getting towed.

We walked back in the tiny restaurant, and started toward a table.

“No! Those tables are for bigger parties. You sit at the bar!! You will get best service in the house!!”

We headed to the bar, if you could call it that. It had an tea machine halfway in my space, and the cash register was one seat down on the other side. We squeezed in between the drinks and the money and began perusing the menu.

The owner was yelling and talking at everyone else as if they were all family. Most likely the Turkish Mob.

He then turned to us. “Why did you come here tonight?”

“Well, we always like to find new Greek places to go when we’re out of town.”

And I saw it on his face. Insult. Yes, he is definitely Turkish – NOT Greek. He walked away without saying a word.

A few minutes later, after composing his Turkish Self Esteem, he came back.

“You ready to order?”

We ordered the combination appetizer platter, getting excited about eating hummus and tzatziki and tabouli and other such delightful treats.

He turned his head and nearly burst our eardrums yelling to the very back of the restaurant for our order to be made. A few minutes later, he brought us over two paper plates – one with dips, one with pita bread.

“These dips are the best we have. If you don’t eat this, you get nothing else!!!”

“Okay…we will eat it!”

“I will make you a bite. It will be good.”

He picked up a piece of pita bread off of the plate and began mixing the dips into a conglomerated hash. He then shoved a bite in Chris’ mouth, as Chris uncomfortably accepted his hand-delivered bite.

“Yes…that was very good!”

“I will get you another one!”

He started mixing dips again and shoved it toward Chris’ face.

This time, Chris beat him to it and put his hand out.

“That’s okay – I will feed myself.”

“No! You eat this bite!”

I volunteered to save Chris from this awkward man-on-man feeding extravaganza. “I’ll take that bite!”

“No! I have another bite in mind for you. You — eat this bite!”

He shoved it in Chris’ unwilling mouth, coating his beard in dips.

“Yes. That was good.”

He prepared another perfect mixture for me, and force fed it to me. After we finally seemed to do a good enough job of convincing him that we were properly satisfied with our dip plate, he relieved us and left.

And began yelling in Turkish at the guy in the back of the restaurant, who was presumably his son.

They yelled angrily back and forth from the kitchen to the counter, and then his son came out of the kitchen to increase the intensity of the yelling.

Then the son put a smile on his face and came to talk to us in English.

Then began scowling again and yelling in Turkish back at his dad.

Then smiling, and talking in English.

Apparently, they were convinced that if we couldn’t understand what they were saying, we would assume it was all nice things. But there was clearly some Turkish cursing in the mix.

Old Turk came back over. We ordered our dinner, and he noticed that we only had a couple of pieces of bread left.

“What?? Why you eat all of the bread?? You have so much left to eat!!”

I jokingly said, “Maybe you didn’t give us enough bread to go with it!”

He gasped in anger.

“THEES!! THEES IS NOT DIP!! Dip is what you eat with CHIPS!! THEES is food!! The bread – the bread has yeast in it. And the water you drink? No Yeast. You mix them together in your tummy and you know what happens???”

He stuck out his belly and motioned that I, too, would get fat from the evils of more bread.

“So there. You see? No more bread for you!!”

A Turkish family walked into the restaurant, all dressed up in their finest. A Mom, Dad, and two kids.

He yelled out greetings to them.

“Ah! You look beautiful!! I must take your picture!!”

The ten year old girl made obvious motions that she did NOT want her photo taken.

“What? You must let me take your picture!! I can put it on my Facebook page. You want to help my business, don’t you??”

He took a picture of her scowling face.

Yes, that will clearly help his business.

As we were eating our entrees, two more obvious newbies walked in.

“You! Sit at the bar! You get the best service of the place!”

They ordered the combination spread appetizer.

He came over. Began mixing bites and shoving them in their faces.

“These dips are the best we have. If you don’t eat this, you get nothing else!!!”

Chris and I looked at each other. And at the same time, realized that we had apparently just taken part in a well-rehearsed dinner theater.

…and then we ran out of the restaurant to make sure that we hadn’t gotten towed.

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Comments

  1. Lindsay D. says:

    My first time reading this and I laughed out loud when you said “Old Turk came back over.” I have never had anything Greek to eat, (that I know of!?) Sounds like a good reason for me and the husband to have a date. What type of dish do you recommend?

    • Oh yes you definitely should! Some of my favorites are:

      Dolmades (grape leaves stuffed with rice)
      Patstitsio (Kind of like a Greek Lasagna)
      Saganaki (flaming cheese)
      Any sort of feta or red pepper dip
      Well-made Gyros
      Avgolemono Soup

      There – that’s a good start!

  2. wait… so did you eat there after having bread shoved in your face or no? enquiring minds need to know.

  3. Okay, I love this story! Hilarious!

  4. ReformedGrits says:

    Ha! Having been to Greece and Turkey, this made me lol. Yes, Turkish for sure!

  5. I love it. Hilarious. And it sounds delicious. I love Greek food. Give me some feta cheese and watch me do a happy dance.

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