A primary question that charter brokers have about any yacht is: What is the chef’s training? If the broker represents French clients, for instance, she often wants to know whether a chef can produce French food. If the clients are Americans, the broker wants to know whether continental cuisine is an option. Charter guests who are “meat and potatoes” lovers don’t necessarily want to eat, say, local Greek food, even if they’re in the islands off the coast of Athens. Serving a hamburger-lover a tiny, fried, whole fish as part of the hors d’oeuvres spread doesn’t always go over so well.
In Turkey, many of the charter yacht chefs aboard locally based boats specialize in–you guessed it–Turkish cuisine. This concerns some charter clients at first, because many people outside of Turkey have never even heard of, let alone tasted, some of the country’s typical dishes. An example would be the dessert above, which I was served yesterday after lunch aboard the 98-foot gulet Schatz. I of course recognized the cherries and strawberries on the plate, but had to ask what was inside the bowl. The best translation, I was told, is “bottom of the pot.” There was no equivalent in America, they said. I would just have to dig in with a fork and give it a try.
Which I did, and, as usual in Turkey, was delighted by new flavors that are nicely satisfying. Once again, my faith was renewed that Turkish cuisine is terrific, at least aboard top-notch charter yachts like Schatz, whose chefs produce meals in a way that lets you try local cuisine without feeing forced into it (for instance, I could have just eaten the cherries and strawberries if “bottom of the pot” didn’t appeal to me).
What’s even better about the food on good charter yachts in Turkey is that the local cuisine is heavy on vegetables and light on carbohydrates. It’s not unusual to be served an entire table full of salads with a few meat platters and a single dish of rice. As some of the charter brokers are fond of saying, you can eat forever in Turkey and never gain a pound.
That’s true even during plated, multi-course dinners like the one I enjoyed last night aboard the 98-foot motorsailer Clarissa (which you may remember from this full-length feature I wrote about two years ago). Our hors d’oeuvres included jumbo prawns and veggies with dip. Our first course, shown below, was fish atop vegetables. Our main course was lamb with spinach, caremelized onions, and a small portion of sliced potatoes. Our dessert was a single scoop of ice cream with mixed fruit, also shown below. If you left the ice cream’s waffle bowl on the plate, as I did, then the entire, two-hour meal included fewer carbohydrates than many Europeans eat for breakfast in a single croissant.
And it was a delicious culinary experience, too, which is of course what you want during any yacht charter. Don’t let the idea of Turkish cuisine scare you away. Embrace it and enjoy, as you would with any other yacht in any other cruising area, and look for top-notch yachts like Schatz and Clarissa to ensure that you get to taste the best of what the region has to offer.
More from the docks in Marmaris tomorrow.