‘They saved me. They stood between me and a bomb’

11 min read

March 2016 was customarily a third time David Califa had taken a organisation of Israelis on his Hungry Tourist food debate to Istanbul. It was going well; he was happy display people a city he loved. On a morning of a 19th they went to Hayvore, a griddle in a heart of a executive Beyoğlu district, for a breakfast of pide, a kind of Turkish pizza, infrequently done with belligerent beef or vegetables, mostly slimey with fiery cheese and surfaced with a boiled egg. Califa had designed that thereafter they would eat köfte during Hussein’s and revisit a marketplace to stop during his favourite fish emporium Reşat Balik where owners Ahmet Yazgüneş had a many tasty lakerda – cooking bonito. The organisation of 12 walked to Istiklal Caddesi, a superb travel during a heart of Beyoğlu, once lined with grand dialect stores and colonnaded arcades, now pedestrianised andfull of general bondage and banks. They stopped for a organisation photo.

“I listened a crash like a lead slam,” says Califa. “Then we non-stop my eyes and there was smoke.” Somehow he found he was still station up, though his garments were ripped and his ankle was bleeding. “I saw my friends fibbing in front of me.” One lady was already dead. Others were terribly wounded. He saw too a physique of a self-murder bomber. “My partner took me by a palm and we sat down. It felt like ages waiting. Half an hour feels like a lifetime. Everyone was bleeding, everybody was shouting. Two of my friends died in front of me. An aged male operative in a little emporium offered inexpensive scarves ran into a travel with all a scarves and attempted to fixed a draining and tie tourniquets. we remember looking adult and people were during any window with phones.”

A Turkish member of a Islamic State had detonated a self-murder bomb. Four people were killed: 3 from Califa’s group, Simha Damri, 60, Yonatan Suher, 40, and Avraham Goldman, 69, as good as a passerby, an Iranian, Ali Reza Razmkhah whose dual little children were among a 36 people injured.

Califa’s organisation were taken to opposite hospitals, where some indispensable endless surgery; a Israelis fast repatriated their citizens. Califa had shrapnel in his ankle. He was in sanatorium in Tel Aviv for a week. For a while he felt numb. Three months after a attack, he separate adult with his girlfriend. “While we was sitting on a street, watchful for a ambulance, we realised life had changed. Even afterwards we thought: we would not let a terrorists retaliate me twice, initial with a detriment of my friends and afterwards to repudiate me a city we loved. we knew we would come back.”

David Califa binds a sketch of him and his organisation taken a few days before a militant conflict in 2016. Photograph: Rena Effendi/The Observer

I initial met David Califa in Spain; we were station in front of a griddle during a acclaimed griddle Elkano on a Basque coast, examination whole turbot scald in a coals. He introduced himself indicating during his T-shirt that read, “The Hungry Tourist”, revelation with a laugh: “But a law is that we am not inspired unequivocally often.”

Califa’s tours are high finish and cost from £2,800-£6,000 for 4-6 days. They take little groups to restaurants on a World’s 50 Best list and impossible-to-book places: Noma in Copenhagen, Etxebarri in Spain, Saito a sushi God of Tokyo. Through his relations with internal foodies and chefs he has entrance to private dining bedrooms and special dishes as good as insider believe of a best travel food stalls.

The griddle during Zübeyir Ocakbaşı griddle in executive Istanbul. Photograph: Rena Effendi/The Observer

We met again in Istanbul in June, on a patio of a Four Seasons on a Bosphorus. He took a design of a ideally pinkish lamb chops in front of us with his iPhone afterwards put one on my plate, and afterwards another. Stubbly, bald, with a turn conduct and a turn stomach, Califa is customarily smiling, stirred by something tasty he has usually eaten or something tasty he has given someone else to eat. He taps during his phone incessantly. He has an partner in Israel, though he’s radically a one-man band, connecting, organising, booking; posting, posting all a time: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, where he has 265,000 followers. Everyone in his photos is always grinning. “I am perplexing to send people home with a memory they will never forget,” he told me.

A fruit mount in a Kadıköy district. Photograph: Rena Effendi/The Observer

Now in his 60s, Califa was a merchant for Salomon Brothers, late when he was 40, played a lot of golf, desired travelling and eating, blogged about it, posted dishes on amicable media, afterwards organized food events with his girlfriend. The Hungry Tourist now has trips to Israel, Spain, Scandinavia, Japan, Thailand and Sri Lanka though a suspicion began in 2015, with Istanbul. He desired a city and had turn undone with a lurching tongue of a Israeli media. “One day we are friends with Turkey, a interests aligned, and a subsequent day they are revelation us we are enemies.” The initial dual tours went well. “Each time we came behind with another 12 ambassadors, like we had planned. They told all their friends: ‘Istanbul is an hour and a half away, a food is great, people indeed utterly like us.’ That’s all we wanted – to make a little change. It was going great. Until we got hit.”

Since a attack, his tours have taken on a new clarity of purpose. More than a tangible food, Califa is endangered with a knowledge of eating, a find of another culture, connectors between people and places. He’s unapproachable that many of his guest make genuine friendships on his tours. “They have WhatsApp groups – they organize dinners though me!” A Turkish crony of his told me that in entertainment people around a table, “Dudi [Califa’s friends mostly call him “Dudi”, a petite of David] heals not customarily himself, though all a incorrect, unjust, astray perceptions that people have and that is a unequivocally profitable thing.”

There were some-more than a dozen militant attacks in Turkey in 2016. That Jun 3 Isis self-murder bombers pounded Istanbul airport, in Jul elements of a Turkish army staged a botched manoeuvre and in a issue tens of thousands of people were arrested. Califa watched events from Tel Aviv. “Another bomb, afterwards a coup, another bomb. we started forgetful during night we was Istanbul and terrorists were aggressive me from any corner. Stupid dreams, crazy stuff. we said: ‘I’ve got to do something about it since I’m fearful to go to Istanbul.’” Five months after a bomb, he motionless to go back. His friends attempted to inhibit him, his therapist pronounced it was not a good idea: Califa felt he had to confront his trauma. “I consider fear is a biggest constraint,” he says.

He initial went behind in a autumn of 2016 though organised to be with friends while he was there. With all a assault and instability, a Four Seasons was roughly empty, a staff happy to see a returning unchanging guest. One of a engagement agents who he knew well, and who had stayed with him in a sanatorium after a bombing, accompanied him to Istiklal Caddesi where it had happened. He visited many of a restaurants and food stalls from his tours. “When we walked in a greeting was always a same,” he says. “The people we knew looked during me as if we was a spook and afterwards everybody would start to cry. The waiters, a chefs, everyone. we was showered in love.”

Black Sea specialities during Hayvore. Photograph: Rena Effendi/The Observer

We retraced that revisit this summer. Hizir Keskin, a renter of Hayvore where a organisation had breakfast that morning, had listened a explosve from inside his restaurant. “I went out into a travel to see what was function and people were using away. we attempted to strech them, we asked a ambulances where they were holding them.” Keskin eventually found Califa in hospital. “I felt so sorry, shocked, it was unequivocally bad. We talked a small though they didn’t let me stay long.”

His business, like many in Beyoğlu, had slumped 70% during 2016. It was never transparent if a organisation had been targeted since they were Israeli, though Califa believed that Istanbul and a people had also been attacked. Keskin was deeply overwhelmed that Califa had returned. “And he still comes, he comes regularly. we follow him on Instagram.” Sitting together remembering, they hugged and patted any other’s arms and their eyes were soppy with tears.

Ahmet Yazgüneş feeds David Califa during his fish shop. Photograph: Rena Effendi/The Observer

We went to Reşat Balik, a fish emporium Califa’s organisation were due to revisit on a morning of a attack. When Ahmet Yazgüneş held steer of Califa, his large white walrus beard pennyless into a smile: “Oh Dudi! My best friend! Oh, my brother!” He cut a cut of salmon and fed Califa. “Good, yes? Can we take a design and post it on my new Instagram?” He called for tea to be brought. The dual large organisation hugged and grinned and cried on any other’s shoulders. Yazgüneş had been awaiting Califa and his organisation when he listened a explosve go off. “I wanted to find Dudi, is he good or not?” he told me in his unlawful English. “I didn’t know. Terrorism is no good.” Yazgüneş had asked his son to find Califa’s series in Israel and he finally reached him several days later. “Dudi told me: ‘I am alive!’ we thought, appreciate God.” “I was unequivocally moved,” Califa told me. “He’s Muslim, I’m Israeli, though we are human.”

This summer’s Hungry Tourist debate of Istanbul was scarcely small; Califa certified people were still heedful of visiting Turkey. (This year Israeli caller series to Turkey are adult to over 400,000, though many are Israeli Arabs.) After a few last-minute dropouts, usually 3 people came: a late Israeli lawyer, a winemaker from California and a lady training in nourishment and astrology from Virginia. Together with Sinan Hamamsarilar, Califa’s beam and partner in Istanbul, we were a pointless crew. The winemaker was an brave sort, he had listened that Califa’s organisation had been pounded and he was meddlesome to accommodate him. The Israeli knew of course, since a conflict had been front page news, and was sanguinary about it. For a Virginian a news of that kind of assault was a small shocking – it was customarily a second time she had trafficked outward a US. But nonetheless we avoided politics, it turns out that discussions of terrorism and mishap are now, sadly, flattering universal.

The Hungry Tourist

We ate high and low; browsed markets, cruised a Bosphorus to dinner. we began to know a sophistication of Anatolian cuisine. At Çömlek Kurufasülye, high adult on a Asian side, with a perspective of a whole city, we ate common baked beans accompanied by a balmy immature yogurt so thick we could mount a ladle adult in it. we had always suspicion of doner as a inexpensive kebab; Hamamsarilar showed us how a doner masters covering cooking lamb and beef so that when it is grilled it becomes dense and can be sliced in sheets. We ate during Çiya, featured in an part of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, where a cook Musa Dağdeviren showcases informal dishes; we ate artichokes pressed with immature green plums and hunger nuts and cherry kebab.Califa took us to one of his favourite places, Dönerci Şahin Usta, set in a little niche in a bullion souk: he had affectionately nicknamed it a hole-in-the-wall Doner. We watched as a doner-maker forged skinny slices with a prolonged knife. Califa told me a maker’s father, who had recently late after a heart attack, had been a genuine master and showed me a video of a aged male figure slices so skinny that they fell from a separate like silk ribbons.

Crossing a Bosporus to a Asian side of Istanbul. Photograph: Rena Effendi/The Observer

One morning we took a packet to a Asian side of Istanbul for lunch. The Bosphorus topsy-turvy with ships and boats and tugs; Califa put his phone divided and sat beside me. He talked about a friends he had mislaid in a bombing: “All 3 of them were improved people than me.” Two of them he had customarily met during a start of a tour, one, Yonni, he had felt an evident tie with. “He was fascinating and funny, witty, though quiet, self-contained. And we became friends, it was like magic, we accepted any other and afterwards he died in front of me. Whenever we remember him we see us here, on a tip rug of a ferry, talking. These 20 mins on a packet are enchanted. You are not here and we are not there, we are between dual continents.”

Califa knows that their deaths are not his fault, “but we can't travel divided from a fact that we brought those people here”. He still has shrapnel in his ankle and during night it aches. The pain creates him remember that “they saved me. They stood between me and a bomb.”

Sinan Hamamsarilar has been on Califa’s debate in Israel several times. A few thousand Turks revisit Israel any year, though many are on event to Jerusalem. The initial time Califa watched as Hamamsarilar posted cinema of his dishes and videos of markets to his 155k supporters on Instagram, with a flourishing realisation. “I said, wow, we know,” – Califa stopped for a impulse as a tension choked his throat. “We did it! We combined this bridge. People on both sides can speak to any other.” Turks are now a second top nationality, after Americans, following a Hungry Tourist on amicable media. “It’s outrageous since we was perplexing to do this, and we mislaid friends doing this and unexpected Sinan comes to Israel and posts with so most adore about Israel – though any inhibition, though any fear, though any clarity of domestic exactness in his possess nation – and we pronounced to Sinan, let’s be partners!”

Califa is dynamic to move some-more Hungry Tourists to Turkey. “This place is unequivocally important. We have to sell it to a universe somehow, they have to understand, it will be word of mouth,” Califa told me. He was optimistic, a autumn debate was already sole out and a winemaker from California had such a good time that he wanted to move his mother and sons on a highway outing by Anatolia designed for October.

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