very popular dish in Istanbul Kokoreç is made from lamb intestines. It is usually not served in restaurants but rather in the streets. There is a certain health risk involved, as the intestines need to be cleaned properly to be sanitary.
Usually the intestines are rolled up on horizontal skewers in street vendors and cooked over a charcoal fire. Then they are chopped, mixed with spices and served in bread.
Walking home from the city late in the evening with a group of Omer’s friends one of the girls said she wanted Çiğ köfte. “No.” Omer said, “We’re getting something else; a real late-night snack…” Exchanging knowing smiles the group took us down a seemingly empty road in a residential area. Right there, the only light in the night, was a tiny food stall lit up by yellow lanterns. An old man was swinging a metal spatula, chopping and turning whatever was on the pan. After ordering something in Turkish Omer told us that we were in for a treat; the only right thing to get when you’re walking home from a night out in Istanbul.
A few minutes later we were handed a sandwich; a soft loaf of bread filled with something brown. It smelled amazing. “Take a bite” Omer commanded with a smile. He and his friends had gotten sandwiches too but no one had bitten into theirs yet. Looking at Alex I shrugged and took a bite and so did he. It tasted just as good as it smelled. The brown stuff was a well-spiced meat filling with a slightly weird texture. Giggling a bit the others started eating their sandwiches too and Omer said: “Okay okay, we’ll tell you. It’s like… this... in here...” pointing to the lower part of his stomach. “Stomach?” Alex asked. “No… Intestines...” I said, realizing what the long thick strings of meat on the grill were. “Yeees, intestines, that’s the name.” Omer said smiling widely. Looking at the sandwich in my hand I laughed. “Well shit…” I said and took another bite. “These are some good intestines.”
Honestly we weren’t scared off at all. As it turned out Kokoreç places were the only ones open late at night, so often when we’d been working late we’d have a gore-sandwich for dinner.