At Shore’s Edge

Adana Kebab

Things have gotten hot on the blog lately. When that happens, I turn the place that most soothes — food. I’ve been meaning to write about a modest Turkish restaurant in Brookline Village, The Family Restaurant. I’ve eaten there near a dozen times in its current incarnation. It offers Turkish food with waiter service in the evenings and functions as a breakfast/lunch joint as well. I recommend the freshly-baked flat Turkish bread, the cacik (garlic-yogurt mixture) and any of the kabob dishes. It also serves the vegetable and bean dishes that make Turkish food not just delicious, but healthy. It’s the one cuisine that could permit me to go vegan — at least vegetarian. Far more enticing than tofu-based fake meat dishes.

Yesterday morning, I freelanced and ordered a concoction of my own invention, an adana kebab breakfast sandwich. Adana kebab is a kindof spicy-ground meat mixture, somehow more tasty than the similar Indian seeth kebab. I asked the owner to fix me a typical adana kebab sandwich along with scrambled egg. At first he and the cook looked at me askance and then figured to give it a shot. When he served it, he conceded that ground meat and scrambled egg is actually a popular dish in Turkey. It was great. In concept, no more than an Egg McMuffin. But with the Turkish bread and spicy kebab, it was sublime and filling.

As I left, I told the owner how I had patronized the old Family Restaurant in Washington Square, usually for breakfast. It was a solid egg and homefries joint until it was incinerated in a mysterious fire in the late 1990s. Before I got the words out — I was going to compare his version favorably to the prior owner — he answered “when it was owned by a nice Greek family. Now, a nice Turkish family.” I echoed his statement.

I found his brief statement moving and resonant. In America, I thought, age-old ethnic foes, can live in peace, or even better, as in this case. As bitter as our disputes can be, this country still does a far better job of getting people to live together, if not happily, at least in peace. I wish I knew how to duplicate this around the world. I can’t. It’s the magic of America. It is also something that we must preserve as the world enters a chaotic, violent and disturbing time. We can argue, debate, and militate. But we must do so in the context of peace and respect. Violent foreign conflicts must be kept at shore’s edge. If not, we will become Sarajevo, or worse.

Also, I cannot write about Turkish food without mentioning the restaurant that sustained me during my three-plus years at the Mayor’s office, Sultan’s Kitchen, in downtown Boston. It was the one restaurant in which I could always eat a very healthy lunch and leave satisfied. I particularly like the cold spinach dish, but can wholeheartedly embrace all of the vegetable mezzes and kebab dishes. The egg-lemon soup, known as avgolemeno soup in Greece, was a hearty and healthy mix of chicken and citrus, a natural anti-cold agent.

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