The best way to a person’s heart is through her belly

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Kafe Sen, Istanbul

If you’re craving for a midnight snack after seeing this, well, I ain’t apologizing. For one, this beautifully plated dish of roasted goose and rice is paradise for your taste buds. And beyond that, there is an incredible story of hospitality and genuine kindness behind this platter.

So the story begins on a wet, snowy day this January in Kadikoy, Istanbul. Yours truly, driven by the quasi-romantic, whimsical scenes she has seen multiple times on the big screen (or the telly screen), decided to savor a cup of hot chocolate at a cafe as the snow flurries on outdoors. I promptly headed out of my apartment, and marched purposefully and expectantly into Kafe Sen.

What happens next is pretty ordinary, ordered, sipped hot chocolate, shifted a couple of times in her increasingly uncomfortable seat by the window. And then the extraordinary hit. The genial (and stylish!!! hey it makes it easier on the eyes) owner of the cafe approaches and with halting English, makes an offer of food to me. Like several other encounters, I simply agreed without really knowing what he was going to serve me, or why he was doing so.

He then arrives with a plate of roasted goose, and explains that it was a gift from a friend in Kars. I thanked him profusely (man, this is seriously vocabulary from like, secondary school. I need new words.) and nibbled on my goose very, very gratefully.

One would think that this was the end of the tale – she gobbles up the bird, thanks the owner excessively and left, and from then became the cafe’s loyal patron and most ardent advocate. What happened next still warms my heart to this day. The owner, bless his soul, arrives with this very plate of kindness and delish, and offers it to me, at no price but with infinite generosity.

And yes, I did finish the goose, leave the cafe while thanking the owner again. But I headed for home that day convinced of how endless and remarkable Turkish hospitality was, and completely humbled by the grace and kindness humanity is perfectly capable of.

P.S. Pardon the grammar errors. Nothing wrong with a little tense mix-up (Why so tensed about tense?!).

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