The Turkish Connection.

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 were clearly some Turkish curse words 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. Meridith says:

    Lol I love the adventures you find together, my dining out experiences seem completely tame and boring in comparison!

  2. I moved to Ankara, Turkey one year ago, and reading this post made me laugh out loud, because it is SO Turkish!

    Just the other day I was visiting an older lady who is a friend of mine. She was telling me all about her homemade jam, and to prove to how good it was, she stuck her finger in the jar, scooped out a huge dollop, and stuck her entire finger in my mouth before I could even react. They take their hospitality very seriously here!

    Rules here are also a lot less important than people are, so of course in his mind it would be fine for you to park in that spot, even if it’s illegal, just because you’re coming to his restaurant. Unfortunately, in the US, the police don’t have quite the same mindset … :)

    Also, many Turks in the US open “Greek” restaurants because Americans will come to a Greek restaurant but not a Turkish one. The food is similar enough that most Americans can’t tell the difference anyway. I hope that you are able to find a good Greek restaurant you can be more comfortable in though!

    • I’m so glad you commented! That’s fabulous. At least he didn’t stick his fingers in our mouths!!!

      And that makes total sense about the “Greek” restaurant thing. No one ever talks about finding a good Turkish restaurant. But I can tell the difference…

  3. Marlene says:

    My husband is in the next room wondering what I am laughing about. Sounds like a Seinfeld episode.

  4. You should go to Tarpon Springs, FL (or at least google it). It is home of the Greeks and their Greek restaurants here in Florida. It’s about 45 minutes from where I live now but I used to live much closer. Very good food and a Greek restaurant on every corner, check it out!

    • Yes!! I’ve ALWAYS wanted to go there. Or at least I’ve always wanted to go there since my brother lived in Gainesville and told me all about it. We google mapped it when we went to Jacksonville earlier this year, but it was a bit too far for a day trip. Soon, we will make it there. Hopefully.

  5. ha ha! The funniest things happen to you…and you tell the stories so well!

  6. Yes if you want authentic Greek food here in Florida Tarpon Springs is the place to go. I love it there of course I love Greek food. That story had me laughing out loud in my office I am sure my co-workers think I have gone crazy. Although I don’t think it is just Turkish people who want to make sure you eat. My best friends father is from Greece and before I can tell him I am full I have another full plate of food in front of me and he is standing there making sure I eat it. I love him though!

    • I can’t wait until I can make it to Tarpon Springs one day!! JC and Lindsay told us all about it, and I’ve been dying to go ever since.

  7. You can’t make this stuff up. Hilarious. I’m not sure I could have acted with that much grace if someone shoved food in my face!

  8. I kept reading this for a punch line, not realizing until the end that it actually happened. I would have bolted as soon as the first bite was shoved anywhere near my face.

  9. And that, my friends, is why I hate to try new restaurants without someone who has been there and explained it thoroughly or been there before and comes with me to show us the ropes.

  10. What a hilarious post!
    I’m guessing you didn’t ask if he had any Turkish Delight, huh? ;)

  11. YIKES! how mortifying!!! so, how was the food? will you be going back? hehehe.

    on a side note, i made chicken gyros last night, all home made. though i’m sure they weren’t nearly greek enough to be the real thing. i still loved them. how does the recipe look to you? http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2009/08/chicken-gyros.html

  12. Stephy_B says:

    Oh wow… I’m afraid my husband wouldn’t have been quite so nice as Chris! Well you certainly got the “hole in the wall” that you asked for I believe. That is just too crazy!

  13. Umm… that’s hilarious! AND disturbing!

    I’m a little concerned about the sanitary conditions of such a place… I mean, hand feeding your customers can’t POSSIBLY give you good ratings with the Health Dept.

  14. That is so crazy it sounds like an urban legend! If his hand had come at my mouth like that, he would’ve lost a finger. For realz.

  15. Oh wow.

    Chris sounds a lot like my husband in many ways, and I can just imagine Shaun’s horrified but polite response to being hand-fed by anyone other than me. : )

    P.S. My mouth is watering so badly thinking of hummus and tzatziki and tabouli. Falafel is one of my favorite meals ever!

  16. Wow, that does not sound like the kind of dining experience I would enjoy! But some of our most favorite restuarants ever are the hole-in-the-wall ones so it’s worth it to wade through the weird ones. :) I just hope T and I never try one where they hand feed you. Haha:)

  17. Bahahahaha! HH would have flipped! I think I would have too! I was irritated and thrown off when a lady at the bakery handed my kids cookies without the little tissue paper. How do you handle situations like that? This did make me hungry for Greek food though. So glad our favorite Greek place isn’t this “authentic”!

    • I don’t even think I’d notice that the Bakery Lady didn’t have tissue. I guess that’s why it didn’t bother me too badly? Perhaps I should rethink my acceptable levels of cleanliness..

  18. You and Chris handled this well…I am not so sure that my husband and I would have taken it all in stride the way you did….but I have to tell you…it was funny to read this.

  19. So, have you liked them on facebook? ;)

    Have you tried Mykonos Taverna in Atlanta? This is just up the street from where I used to work.

  20. Literally Laughing out Loud!!

  21. This was hysterical! The whole time I was reading I was thinking “Seinfeld” and then reading through your comments I see I’m not the only one. Even as you sit there horrified you have to be somewhat pleased to have fallen upon such blogging gold!

  22. polymathamy says:

    I laughed so hard at that story that I had to leave my computer for a few minutes in the middle of it! (I was reading it at work and didn’t want to disturb my co-workers with my giggling fit!)

    I think I’ll go to the Greek food truck nearby for lunch today. I wonder if there will be yelling… or hand-feeding….

  23. Oh. My. Goodness. That’s the funniest story I might have ever heard! His place must be packed with regulars, lol!

  24. Margaret says:

    Google them. It looks like a terrific place to eat and there are two of them! Sounds like an adventure and an America’s Funniest Home Videos all rolled into one.

  25. Eek – sounds intense! I don’t think we would have lasted a full meal. What an adventure!

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