Culinary Cruising: To the Loo

Marisol, the author of The Lady, the Chef and the Courtesan, a sensual, romantic novel that comes complete with recipes, has left landlocked Denver for a stint as a celebrity chef. She's sending daily missives from her temporary home: a cruise ship.

Day Two: Turkey

"Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. This is your cruise di-rector, Susan Wood. The correct time is 8 in the morning and the correct temperature is 20 degrees Celsius."

Susan greets all 1,800 passengers on the MS Rotterdam this way every morning, with her gentle English accent and a touch of amusement in her voice. "Ladies and gentlemen, in a few minutes we will dock in Turkey, where the local currency is the Turkish Euro, so PLEASE don’t forget to negotiate! Whatever you choose to do in Turkey, please make sure you have fun." She closes every single one of her greetings -- morning, noon and night --with the parting words: “Too the loo!” What she’s really saying is “Tout a lair,” yet everyone on the ship goes around repeating, “To the loo!,” and smiling.

We are docked in Kusadasi, Turkey. We left Pireus, Greece, last evening and sailed all night long – and all night long I lay awake, jet-lagged, wondering if making chicken on the MS Rotterdam the day after tomorrow, as I am expected to, isn’t a bit odd. Miles of ocean everywhere I look and not a chicken in sight, save maybe as a fossil somewhere in the ruins of Ephesus.

On a cliff at the edge of a harbor hang some signs:

Asian Call Center

Oriental Rugs and Jewellry [sic]

Azim Tours

And, in black and yellow, hanging sideways from an uncertain adobe balcony, is the sign of all signs: CENTURY 21

What makes it seem so incongruous is not the fact that the buildings around are all in near ruins, or that it is written in English, or that it seems about to fall, but my view of it: I’m looking at the sign from inside the ship’s gym, where a man’s eyes are fixed on ESPN on the gym’s TV while Mozart plays through the PA system.

The red Turkish flag flies in the distance. The white star at the tip of the crescent white moon is bright at seven o’clock in the morning. -- Marisol

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun