“The ground floor, lapped by the canal itself, was given over to a quiet and unfashionable cafe, where watermen sometimes ate their lunch and where Palewski was sure of a dish of rice and a bottle of black wine in the evening.
He wondered what Yashim would make of these risottos, which bore a family resemblance to pilaf, only the rice was thicker. Yashim believed Italians had learned to cook in Istanbul. And certainly the Venetians, who had lived, fought, and traded so much in and around the fringes of the Ottoman world, ate very like the Turks. They had the same particular preferences, Palewski observed, for dozens of little dishes, like meze, though the locals called them cicchetti instead, and they were as finicky as any Ottoman about the provenance of certain fruits and vegetables. In Istanbul, one ate cucumbers from Karaköy, or mussels from Therapia. In Venice, Ruggerio insisted that the bitter leaves called radicchio should come from Treviso, the artichokes from Chioggia, and the fresh beans from a little town called Lamon, on the mainland. Neither the Turks nor the Venetians seemed to value fish.