At approximately 6:30 p.m. Istanbul time, two of our most intrepid team members set out on a desperate quest for the elusive traditional Turkish pizza. The two young men (whose names are not important as their unerring determination, courage, and good looks perfectly exemplify the spirit of the Northern Bites team) set off with empty stomaches and returned with full arms and even ‘fuller’ hearts.
Their spiritual journey began at a local Airport Outlet: having just successfully traversed a death bridge over a stream full of ravenous Turkish crocodiles, they were in high hopes that their ominous, and already far too stressful task, would be near its end. Their hopes were immediately dashed, high on the 4th floor of this Turkish super structure, by the presence of a single pizza stand: Sbarro’s. Dismissing it for its ‘Americanimity’ and mildly outrageous prices, the two decided they would rather trek on than return to their waiting team with such uninventive cuisine. The team had had lamb and chicken sandwiches (french fries inside the bun!) for lunch, and these two adventurers refused to be outdone!
Remembering a fortuitous encounter with the leader of the Irish Robocuppers, who mentioned having encountered an exquisite Turkish pizza place during his own dinner-time travels, the two headed west (in the direction of this legendary venue), disappointed but unrelenting.
Alas, they arrived too late! The place, whose menu described pizza kebap (not kebab, they too were surprised), Turkish corner pizza, and doner (lamb?) pizza, had closed at 7, and they had arrived at 7:10. Misfortune sat heavily on their brows as they knew the importance of their swift success: without food Jack’s fingers would become numb, Nate’s eyes would glaze, Dani’s mood would darken, and none would be able to code. Now desperate they decided Sbarro’s was their only, and their last, hope, so they did what any time conscious travelers would do: catch a cab.
Unluckily for them, the name Airport Outlet (the literal title of the establishment housing Sbarro’s), sounds a lot to the Turkish ear like Airport, STEP ON IT. And step on it this driver did, in exactly the wrong direction. After 5 minutes of vigorous pointing and frantic attempts at communication, their point was taken; the car began a slow loop back towards the outlet. Fearing both for their lives, and the digestive fluids of their teammates, the two fled from the taxi and ascended the four steep floors back to Sbarro’s traditional Turkish Pizza.
Resigned to their Sbarro’s fate, they focused now on what they knew would be their greatest challenge: actually placing an order. More vigorous pointing and meaningless grunting ensued until a translator was finally found. An order of 1 cheese, 2 pepperoni, and 1 veggie pizzas later, the two sat down in the mall’s cafeteria realizing too late that they were wearing matching bright turqouise RoboCup 2011 tournament shirts. Feeling the epitome of all sore thumbs, they tolerated with dignity the funny looks and scowls of the restaurant’s patrons. The order finally came, though not without its own confusion: the two American greenhorns were surprised to discover that, in Turkey, pepperoni is traditionally placed on a pizza after it has been cooked. Seeing their ordeal so near to an end, they chose to simply accept this as fact and forge on. They clambered back over the treacherous bridge, battled the temperamental paper bags containing their complementary 4L of Pepsi, and finally made it back to the wide and waiting mouths of their fellow Bites.