1. Keyif

Who can not adore a country that not only has a word for idle relaxation, but strongly encourages the practice?

2. Baby-soft skin

My goal is to go so regularly to the hammam that the natir won’t feel compelled to proudly show me how much dead skin she’s sloughed off me.

3. Nazar boncuğu everywhere

While I never was superstitious, I get a little reassurance every time I see the pretty blue eye (though I know it won’t protect me from my taxi driver trying to rip me off). I’ve now taken to wearing my own around my neck, and when I had a particularly bad boss, I hung one above my office door to keep him at bay….

4. Checking for fish and teardrops in your coffee dregs.

I’m thrilled when my coffee indicates I’m getting cheerful news of luck and wealth.

5. Barber shop entertainment

Watching the barber brush a flame over a man’s face to get rid of the last bit of cheek, neck and ear hair is like a free circus show. Especially when the guy in the chair is a tourist.

6. Restaurant hospitality

Unless I’m in a hurry, I love the Turkish practice of wanting to separate for as long as humanly possible the unfortunate necessity of a customer having to pay for food.

7. Everything being available on the menu, even when it’s not.

I still feel guilty when I order something and see a young man sprint out of the kitchen, and return moments later with the calamari or whatever it was that the waiter was too hospitable to tell me they were out of ….

8. Cherries

As I write this, I’m absolutely craving the cherry tarts from Istanbul’s Cigdem Patisserie.

9. Kumpir

A baked potato without having to think to put it in the oven an hour ahead? Yes please.
Plus all those toppings ….

10. Çay

Served in a tulip glass, of course, never a cup.

11. Feeding the cats-­and-­a-­half

On the streets of my favourite restaurants I know just what the cats like, and always order a plate for them while I’m still perusing the menu. The sleek long Abyssinian cats-and-­a-­half are my favorite.

12. Kolonya

Everything is better when refreshed with lemon cologne!

13. Ezan in the morning

Hearing the first call to prayer of the day tells me I can roll over and sleep for another hour or two. And how do so many Turkish muezzinler have such great voices?

14. Pide

It’s not as good as pizza from Naples, but it sure is delicious.