Algis Kemezys

Algis Kemezys
Ste Adele, Québec, Canada
June 28
Internationally exhibited Photographer/Documentary filmmaker, Sculptor, Dowser, Scrabble enthusiast, Geomancer, Iatromant, gourmet chef


Editor’s Pick
MARCH 8, 2012 8:49AM

Lunching out in a Turkish Village

Rate: 55 Flag

 photograph by algis kemezys

        I met Güler Bener at a book-signing/lecture that my buddy Byron Ayanoglu recently gave in Bodrum for the translation of his book Crete on the Half Shell (Istiridye Üstü Girit in Turkish). The lovely lady, a long-time resident of Bitez's Aktur section, a conservationist, a naturist and, luckily for me, fluent English-speaker, proposed a lunch for us in the home of her friends in a village where she owns an olive orchard.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              photograph by algis kemezys

              Güler Bener in a pensive moment



photograph by algis kemezys

 The village, Bozalan, is located some two hours of driving from Bitez —albeit only forty-five kilometers away, over winter-softened roads— on the south coast of the peninsula, beyond Mazi, uphill from the resort of Çökertme. We descend seven strong, very hungry, onto a phantasy-land, a hamlet set into a mountain ledge overlooking rolling hills that gracefully end up on golden sands and the sapphire sea. The hilly peninsula of Datça in ghostly outline salutes us from across the fjord.

photograph by algis kemezys 



                                                      photograph by algis kemezys



photograph by algis kemezys  

The scene couldn't be more Turkish-rustic if it tried. Early-blossoming almond trees, donkeys on dirt paths, kerchiefed women sweeping their stoops, cows on their way to pasture, stone houses with smoking chimneys promising indoor warmth on this sunny-cool day with lingering-winter breezes that can chill you to the bone.


photograph by algis kemezys 





            photograph by algis kemezys

             Freshly picked wild asparagus on sale in the village




photograph by algis kemezys 




                     photograph by algis kemezys



                                                       photograph by algis kemezys

 Our host Birgül puts finishing touches to the meal


We're welcomed to the home of Mehmet and Birgül, parents of five daughters and owners of a piece of land from where they derive all their food, from goats —one of whose off-spring is the day's piéce de resistance— to milk for the home-made yoghurt and butter, to enough wheat for the daily bread and of course to all the vegetables. They shyly admit that they do buy their rice, without which the stuffed suckling-goat would be incomplete. Birgül, whose name translates as "one rose" is the chef, with only one assistant left to her, young Sila who still lives at home, while her two oldest daughters have married and live in nearby Milas and Mumcular respectively, and the next two down the line have moved to Bodrum where they work.

                                                          photograph by algis kemezys



                                                                                                                                                                          photograph by algis kemezys 

                   Güler and the platter of gözleme


                                                       photograph by algis kemezys  



                                                     photograph by algis kemezys 

 We settle down on rugs on the floor around the wood-burning heater. The first course is gözleme, the large, thin pancake that is baked on a special convex griddle, and folded with wild greens and white cheese. Gözleme is a popular road-side snack in Turkey and I've eaten many of them, but never one that was homemade and as wholesome as this one. It is passed around among the guests on a loaded plate which visits me several times. "All-you-can-eat gözleme" is my idea of heaven.

                     photograph by algis kemezys                               Asparagus and scrambled eggs warming on the fire


  photograph by algis kemezys



photograph by algis kemezys

 A decorated tray is set on the centre of the rug and the next course is presented by Sila in individual bowls. This is keshkek, wheat berries slow cooked in butter, enhanced with additional melted cream and crisped onions. It is soft, insanely calorific and oh-so soothing. While we slurp it down, the table is being loaded with sauteed wild morels —the hills around the village have a wealth of prized tubers, including white truffles!— wild asparagus with scrambled eggs, fried peppers with yoghurt as a salad, and freshly home-baked bread.

photograph by algis kemezys

 The main course arrives in the arms of Sila with unheard trumpets blaring. The goat meat is melted, almost evanescent, from its many hours of slow-baking in the wood-burning stove, its rice stuffing alive with onions and bits of carrot, is wet yet grained, and so aromatic and rich from cooking inside the meat that I dare not tamper it even with salt.


photograph by algis kemezys 



                    photograph by algis kemezys 

 The eating occurs in reverential silence not only because we are all ravenous —from anticipation as well as empty bellies—but also because every bite is precious, far too irreplaceable to spoil with conversation.  

                     photograph by algis kemezys 



 photograph by algis kemezys




                     photograph by algis kemezys 

After dinner we are offered coffee in the little cups with the typically Turkish-style undissolved grounds that dry into hieroglyphs if the cup is reversed onto the saucer after one has finished sipping. Telling fortunes from the grounds is a recurring indoor sport in Turkey, and much to my surprise, the foreign educated, highly cultured Güler —her favorite author is James Joyce—  knows how to read cups. 

photograph by algis kemezys 

As Birgül listens to her fortune, a continuing saga of too much work and premature aging, Sila entertains us with her paintings. Two of her older sisters arrive to meet us, both of them dressed in thoroughly modern denim pants and tight-fitting tops, totting cell-phones that keep wanting to ring even though they are on "silent". The phones are only the tip of the technology in this country home. They also have a plasma TV with cable, and of course computers. The family might be living in a forgotten village, eating off their land, but they are decidedly of the 21st Century.

                                                                                                                                                                             photograph by algis kemezys

                       Sila shows off one of her paintings


photograph by algis kemezys  



photograph by algis kemezys It is regrettably time to go. It's gone past five, with darkness around the corner, and it's best to negotiate the trickier parts of the road, from the village to the highway, in daylight. We bid this priceless experience goodbye and drive off as a dog looks on.

photograph by algis kemezys

 photograph by algis kemezys

Algis Kemezys  © 2012   

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Thanks for the lunch!
You always show me things I would never see and I love that. The food look marvelous well except for the poor baby goat but still I admire living off the land and would love to be able to do so myself.
The young lady with the painting is an old soul with laughing eyes. Thank you for sharing an experience of family from afar.
You live such an adventurous life. I could never keep up with you. Sometimes you make me dizzy.
Algis, thank you! I felt right there although I am so far. I remember the taste of roadside gözleme with beyaz peynir - ah, to die for!!
Aromatic! I liked the painting. Oh my what a lovely afternoon. Thanks.
I explain why...
maybe the intense blue of the sky
or the serenity I feel is in that place waiting
with the happiness
I can't say why I'm smiling
as I wipe away a tear

thank you Algis. this is just just just the most beautiful piece.
I think it's that first image...your hand showing me the road ahead.


and while I once thought I would never be tempted to look beyond Istanbul, Bozalan calls...

enchantments in the olive orchard...and in Algis' sapphire sea...

you've hypnotized me and I like it...very much ~
What food!!! What people!!! I envy you !
Nice lunch!
I cannot believe how blue the sky is there.
Have never been and probably never will - but your words and photos took me on a lovely trip this morning - thank you
I'm packing my suitcase now.
Thanks for inviting us to your beautiful visit, Algis! The photos are gorgeous...and that fresh asparagus is out of control! :)
You are an incredibly gifted man. After having lunch with you, I'm ready for a big ol' nap. ;)
Absolutely beautiful scenery and folks. I presume it is your art that makes the light so crisp and alive?
Oh joy! Oh, yum! ~r~
Oh joy! Oh, yum! ~r~
Such a fascinating experience! Wonderful and thank you for sharing the gorgeous pictures of a beautiful place and people.
You live in a beautiful country!!!! =-} Thx for sharing.
What a life you have, what an eye you possess, and what an aesthetic you bring to us. And good food too.
This brings wonderful memories. I love Turkey; it is a beautiful country. I can safely say that they have the best food I had--yes, including France. I love their beef, lamb and poultry, and they have the best kabob ever. Grand post, Algis, so endearing. R
The food looks delicious and the company, warm ... but that deep, clear blue sky in the third photo is sensational.
Harry's Ghost, OK...wish you were there too! Thanks HG!

Lunchlady 2, Yes these folks have a wonderful garden and a great collection of friends too. Thanks again L2!

Linnnn, That is such a wonderful observation. Thanks again L!

Sagemerlin, Yes sometimes I make myself dizzy too! Thanks SM!

FusunA, I actually thought of you while there knowing you would enjoy this. Thanks F!
Rwnutjob Thanks so much and indeed I am thanking. Thanks R!

Zanelle, Yes I told her to paint one painting a month of her village and after 5 years she will have a treasure in her possesion. Thanks Z!

Foolish Monkey, Yes the sky was a fine blue that day and it blue me away to. Did you see the moon there as well? Thanks again FM!

Foolish Monkey, Yes indeedy!

V.Corso, I will tell them to be expecting you then? Thanks and more..VC!

catch-22, Does that mean I get the catch 22 reward? Thanks C22!
Jmac1949, Yes, they also asked about you! Thanks so much JMAC!

Midwest Muse, Yours is a pretty blue too but then again this day did feel special. Thanks MM!

LammChops, Thanks so very much LC!

Stim OK I will meet you at the airport? Thanks S!

clay ball let me tell you the asperagus was to die for...Thanks CB!

Belinda T. Exactly as I felt afterwards because the wood fire just made me want to doze bigtime so I went outside and walked out of the town. Thanks BT!

ASH … It was one of those million dollar days Ash! Thanks again A!

Jett Noire YUMMY is right. Thanks JN!

SheilaTGTG55, You would have loved it I am sure, maybe next time?...Thanks S!

Blufeather, The least I can do. Thanks BF!

Mary Stanik, Thanks so very much MS!
Thoth Yes I think the same way. I have never eaten better! Thanks T!

VariousArtists Yes warm cheerful and something extra too.Tender loving care! Thanks VA!

........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx & Smiles (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥
Great Photo's - especially the Almond Blossom. This looked like a really memorable day out. I especially like the sound of the endless supply of Gozleme - my favourite Turkish snack. Thanks for sharing this great day out in such an eloquent fashion. Roving Jay
Oh, how sumptuous!!
Thanks for this peek at a daily moment so familiar and so foreign all at once : )
I always enjoy your work, but particularly enjoyed this. I wish we Americans had the same spirit of hospitality that I've experienced in so many countries, including Turkey. Thanks for sharing your day with us. P.S. What did your coffee grounds say?
Simply fabulous Algis! Wonderful of you to let us partake at this special gathering. Such a beautiful part of the world, with very special people.
An amazing feast of food and friendship. I love your photos because they depict topography I do not know...and might never know, except in pictures.
Priceless meal. Thanks for sharing.
Terrific photo-essay Algis. I just had dinner but now I'm hungry again. Odd custom not to talk during dinner. Do you have any idea if this is particular to that family or if it's a more widespread practice?
Looks heavenly. Not dingy or depressing your work, Algis.
Roving Jay, Yes Gozleme is just so fine and so healthy and good too!
Thanks for commenting and sharing RJ!

Just Thinking... Yes I thought so myself but this was just to good to keep to myself..Thanks JT!

Jennifer Prestholdt, Thanks so much. My grounds said I would be taking a trip soon after arriving back home. Thanks for asking.
ok, sold
that is where i want to live
Gary Justis, You would have enjoyed this because in the shed there were all kinds of collected things to put on vases.So i did think of you. Nobody throws anything that might be useful out! Thanks again GJ!

Bellwether Vance, Yes I like seeing the locations around locations instead of just a place or a meal in some ones dining room. Knowing the turf around a place makes for a better meal. Thanks again BV!

tg within, Anything that ,makes you happy and hungry for more Tg!
Thanks again TW!

Abrawang, I am not sure but here folks just ate and remained silent. yes this food is the best and healthiest. Wish you were there too! Thanks A!

fernsy,OK thanks so much F. Wish you were there too! Fresh wildish asparagus is better than anything you have ever known.
Happy Birthday wishes to Thoth & Mario may they have the best BD yest!!!
.........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx & Smiles (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥
Thanks for sharing this
I am hankering for some gozleme and a piece of that blue sky! I loved Turkey when we were there on our honeymoon in 2008--the cruise stopped at Ephesus and Istanbul. Thank you for the beautiful photos and story.
Thanks for the great visit and food!
I feel like I was taken along on this unique travel encounter, to experience it along with you, your companions, and the family. Thanks~
Thanks for the feast, Algis.
Please, if you see Sila again : there's a guy in Australia who loves that painting !
( This guy would buy that painting, I'm sure.)
M. C. S. It is my pleasure and so glad to saw it. Thanks MCS!

Erica K, Well ,Turkey is waiting for your return. Thanks again EK!

From The Midwest, It is really a little bit like that. So glad you enjoyed my trip. Thanks Midwest.

Donegal Descendant, Exactly what i wanted and so you got the full measure. Thanks again DD!

Kim Gamble, OMG I will pass that on and your message will get to her. I told her she only had to keep on painting her village and in 5 years she would be a national star now that Turkey is opening up to the arts more. Thanks KG!
Idyllic. BTW, that doga seems to want your camera, Algis.
And thanks, too, for inspiring the Monkey! Her verse sums up my feeling, as well.
I literally get swept away by your posts, Algis, if just for a little while.

Nice trip on this early Sunday morning.
What a glorious treat to follow along and hear about and see the experiences. Everything looks so rich and satisfying, from the colors of the sky and buildings to the insides of the home and the food. I feel very full and contented. Thanks Algis!
Rw005g. Yes I agree with you here. This location of southern Turkey offers the best of all worlds. A mild short winter. A long growing season and well defined culinary dictionary of vast dishes of all kinds bases a lot on vegetables. I do think because the diest is so much better than many North Americans these people have an edge that is strong and clear. The whole fast food thing and lack of a variety of fresh vegetables definetely plays a part in one mind and more. Thanks again Rw0058!

Chicken Mãâàn Yes that dog became such a pal of mine over such a short period of time. it belonged to the folks where I dined and just liked me from the start. Thanks CM!

Chicken Mãâàn Yes indeed and thanks to you both. Inspirering others with your images is something oh so fine.

Blue Roses, Great that makes me so happy that I managed to do this. Best to you always.BR!

l'Heure Bleue, Indeed this country is rich and so full of things to see and eat. I think that this place is the ideal place to eat plenty of the vegetables and enjoy views and ancient places like no other. Thanks so much L'HB!
Sila's smile ... her eyes ... all that they share ... so easily ... speak the joy ... of such a life ... reflect the beauty ... so much already ... part ... of her... and through your telling ... part ... of us ...
I devoured every word and picture as if it were served on a platter. Really makes me want to visit this village, with you as my guide. rated.
I devoured every word and picture as if you were serving it to me. Would love to visit this village with you as my guide. Let me ask you this are the wild greens the leaves from dandelions, because I recall collecting them for salads as a child in Italy? rated
I love that you stray from the beaten path.
Wonderful! Thank you.
anna1liese, Yes yes and yes. I thought so too! Nice prose as well. Thanks so much A!

Desnee Flakes, You really know how to make someone feel great1 Thanks DF!

Desnee Flakes, I would indeed like to show you this place. Eating wild greens here is such a natural thing to do. I did a post here about that a year ago. There are such a variety too! Thanks DF!

Sarah Cavanaugh, Thanks so much C! Thats what I do best.

onislandtime, Your very welcome O!
Thanks to everyone who commented and enjoyed this post. Wish you were all here and that I could treat you to lunch at some point in Turkey.
........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx & Smiles (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥
Another masterpiece. You make me wish that I was there, getting to know these wonderful people in their beautiful land, eating amazing food and watching you take these fabulous photos.
rated with love
Romantic P. Your so fine for saying that. Hugs and more for you!
The best of both worlds: live in a simple yet comfortable setting, with modern technology at your fingertips.
Chrissie Pissie, Thanks so much for saying that my thoughts exactly.
Alex K. We 'bumped' on the Open Salon Feed.

You sure don't 'Kiss' as nice as Joan H. does.

I need Patience while Poky Photos download.
I always remember 'Adana' (sp?) Turkey. Sigh.
It's the border town. I was refused into Syria.
That was when I was on a journey to Israel.
I had to backtrack. It was a wild seventies.
Now the photos I see make me hungry.
Maybe I order 'Wendy's' French fries.
thanks for the trip :)