Himself's not really in Topkapi Palace, but it sort of looks like he is!
Our pal Charles Perry, who knows enough about Turkish food to write books on it (and he does), urged us to sample the ice cream first, before it sold out. Good advice--the dondurma stand had a line all day long. Dondurma is a curious stretchy ice cream that doesn't change shape when it melts. What gives it this texture and property is the addition of flour made from the orchid plant and mastic, a resin that causes it to hold its shape, regardless of temperature. He said that Baskin Robbins once tried to move into the Turkish market but failed, because the Turks found it odd and undesirable that American-style ice cream didn't hold its shape when it melted. I guess it all depends on what you're accustomed to, eh?
It was amazing to watch the women who rolled out the super-thin dough for the pastries called gözleme. It was a windy day, and they were rolling the dough so thinly that it billowed in the breeze like a hanky--but never tore! I wonder how many thousands of pieces of dough they rolled. I'm sure they were still rolling it in their sleep that night.
Some parting words...
If you'd like to get a glimpse of the festival, check it out at http://www.anatolianfestival.org/festival-2010.html and watch the introductory video.