Turkish Delight:Paige & Aydin
The veranda outside the teahouse overlooked the dark blue waters of the Bosphorous which separated the European and Asian sides of Istanbul. We were sitting a small café table. It was early morning, and the air felt warm and damp, the sweet scent of the waters of the strait mingling with the smell of the breakfast spread out before me. At its edges, the skyline was trimmed pink with the last of the morning sunrise. Around me, the Turkish teahouse patrons laughed as they sipped their morning teas and coffees, the aroma of the drinks and the perfume of freshly baked bread hanging heavy in the air.
Aydin lifted a Kalamata olive and leaned in toward me. “Taste,” he whispered.
The morning sunlight made his honey-colored eyes sparkle, sunshine shimmering across the auburn lowlights in his dark hair. A stray breeze made his white shirt flutter open, revealing just a peak of his muscular chest. The view called to mind last night’s pleasures, the memory of which set my cheeks burning to rosy pink.
I parted my lips gently and let him put the tiny morsel in my mouth. The earthy taste of the olive, devoid of the packaged sharpness of added salt and MSG, made my palate spring to life. The freshly-picked olive melted on my mouth like liquid olive oil and sunlight rolled into one.
“Now this,” he said, lifting a small square of feta cheese. I closed my lips over his fingers, pausing to gently suck, then slowly moved the tasty tidbit into my mouth.
The salty tastes that bit my tongue, the tastes of both Aydin and cheese, made my lips quiver. I chewed slowly, letting the flavors linger, then swallowed.
“Do Turks always eat olives and feta cheese for breakfast?” I asked as I lifted my glass of hot Turkish tea by the rim, careful not to burn my fingers on the cup. Cautiously, I sipped the amber liquid which I’d sweetened with sugar as I eyed the plate in front of me: freshly baked bread with sesame seeds that was round in shape like a doughnut, simit, he’d called it, olives, feta cheese, almonds, and sliced tomatoes. On the table was fresh honey and heavy, plain white yogurt. It was a feast for the senses, and my American palette was tripping over itself to adjust. I’d only ever eaten feta cheese and olives in a salad or on pizza.
Aydin smiled then spooned sugar into his own glass tea cup. “Every day,” he said then leaned across the table and placed a sweet kiss on my lips. He cradled my cheek in the palm of his hand. “Paige…my beautiful American girl,” he whispered in my ear.
I returned the kiss, tasting his lips once more, then leaned back and stared into his honey-colored eyes. “And Aydin…my Turkish delight,” I replied with a smile.
Aydin laughed out loud. He wrapped his arm around me, pulling me close, kissing me on the head.
I exhaled deeply, feeling more content than I had in years. I gazed out once more at the Bosphorus, watching ships glide across the calm waters. A soft wind blew in, ruffling my air, and stirring up the spicy scent of Aydin’s cologne. Feeling dizzy and overcome with joy, I closed my eyes and savored the flavors swimming in my mouth, the best of which was the taste of Aydin’s kiss.