Climb Every Mountain

Bursa’s one and only Paçacı Hüsnü

In Bursa I called for lunch at a little place our editor had recommended called Paçacı Hüsnü. It is a restaurant selling all those ‘bits’ of the animal which the British usually never see – brains, marrow, the meat of the head, tripe etc. usually done in soups. Restaurant is perhaps too grand a word for what is basically a very inexpensive eating place for people of mature palates and mature stomachs. I had the ‘karışık paça’ which had all three, tripe, marrow, meat from the sheeps head, all in a rich stock soup with a drizzle of garlicy Thracian wine vinegar to bring out the flavour. This is daily fare in the Balkans, according to the chef-proprietor, Mr Hüsnü. Hearty stuff it is, and Mr Hüsnü replenished my bowl with an extra ladle-full of soup when I had drunk to an imaginary plimsol line half-way down. He is from Komotini, or Gümülcine, its old Turkish name, a town in Greece near its border with Turkey. I could have done with some of his paça the night I spent trying to hitch a lift out of Komotini one cold and wet November 38 years ago, and ended up sleeping in a culvert by the side of the road. No wonder the Porte had so much trouble keeping order in the Balkans if they were raised on this stuff. Never mind putting hairs on your chest, it kept me going through a long day of hiking up and down the hillsides of Pinarbası and Mollafenarı, as autumn mists rolled down from Uludağ, discovering ancient adobe houses half-sunk in the earth of centuries layered upon layer of the narrow streets. And to cap it all, there, in that little eating house of Hüsnü Bey I drank the finest Turkish coffee in memory. The bill, YTL5.

Ed: Paçacı Hüsnü is off the beaten track in downtown Bursa and hard to find without a car/taxi (in fact it makes an excellent break if you are passing Bursa on your way south to Izmir as you can slip on an off the motorway without being snared in too much traffic). If driving, leave the Yıldırım roundabout in the direction of Ankara and take the first turning on your right after the petrol station. The street backtracks and Paçacı Hüsnu is on your right. Further along is the long-established, but apparently recently closed Çorbacı Salih. You can usually park in front of Paçacı Hüsnü. Open from early morning until around 1pm. Call ahead if running late to ask Hüsnü Bey to keep a bowl or two for you. Paçacı Hüsnü was recommended in Cornucopia’s special Bursa issue, Number 38 and the editor still insists it is one of the best soup shops in the world. For a huge choice of offal recipes, Cornucopia 20 is the issue to have.

Christopher Ryan is a regular contributor to Cornucopia Magazine, and is co-owner, with his wife Frances, of the excellent Damascus Drum Café in Hawick.

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