An Ideal Breakfast Sandwich on the Aegean
Ayvalık tostu in İzmir
A traditional Turkish breakfast is an elaborate affair, with many small dishes and countless cups of tea. Tost, which consists of two toasted pieces of bread with soft white cheese, sucuk (spiced sausage) and tomato in the middle, is the opposite. Quick and easy, it is ideal sustenance for an early morning road trip to the coast.
As a newly minted English teacher in İzmir, escaping to the beach town of Çeşme was a common weekend ritual that I learned to embrace. It was a reason to leave behind the weight of the week’s lesson plans and the uncertainty of moving to a new country.
As the week came to an end, the city streets would begin to empty as a majority of its inhabitants left for the cooler shores of the Aegean. The nearby neighborhood of Bostanlı, which usually hummed with nighttime activity, was deserted, with only the thick summer air to fill the leftover silence.
My boyfriend and I learned to leave early in the morning to avoid the tangle of traffic that clogged the main arteries out of İzmir later on in the day. Our bribe for waking up early was a hearty breakfast sandwich at a roadside cafe that served as fuel for the journey ahead.
Our destination was Süt Evi (Milk House), an hour outside of Izmir. A laughing cartoon cow that served as its mascot made it a welcome sight among the other drab roadside eateries and car repair shops.
Joining all the other blurry-eyed patrons in a spacious, generously air-conditioned room, our menus were quickly placed in front of us. Brightly colored pictures of each item helped make up for my elementary grasp of Turkish.
Though in truth, a menu was just a formality, as I had my order ready on the tip of my tongue: Ayvalık tostu with cheese and sucuk, hold the tomatoes.
As we waited, tulip-shaped glasses of the customary Turkish tea were placed on our table. I drank the familiar amber liquid as the scent of toasted bread and melted cheese drifted around us from the surrounding tables. My stomach rumbled in response.
Time seemed to stretch on as we waited for our sandwiches to come. Finally, they arrived. Toasted ovals of perfection that kept the savory goodness of the molten cheese and spiced sausage hidden away under a deceivingly simple toasted bread exterior. The crunch of bread punctuated the silence between us as we inhaled our sandwiches. Soon all that was left were a few rogue crumbs on and around our empty plates.
Full, we stumbled out into the sunlight, to head once more to the sea. The beach was calling.