The Köftebus is coming… [to the tune of ‘the Vengabus’ – provide your own backing track]


Well – if you don’t know the tune, I bet you’ve ‘spotified’ it now – I shall be using that in class when we come to nouns converted into verbs – like ‘to google’!

We were telling our participants about our trip to the köfte van.  Everyone got very excited about us tasting traditional Turkish food, and seemed to be quite impressed that we were willing to try food from the side of the road.

One participant in particular was grilling us (pun intended!).

“Did they have onions?” he said.  “I only like köfte  if they have onions!”

I guess we’d better give you the whole story: on one of our evening sojourns to get an ice cream, we spotted a van driving along the road.  We knew it couldn’t be a dragon, because fire comes out of the front of a dragon, not the back.

The van was driving along with the back of the truck opened up.  On the bed of the truck was what I presume was a gas fired grill with charcoal on top in the back, and a big red sign saying köfte swinging from the back too.  It alarmed me slightly that there were naked flames right between the hybrid tank and the petrol tank, but there seems to be a much more laissez-faire attitude towards things in Turkey, and I supposed that he knew what he was doing…

Anyway – he drove right past us, at not an unsubstantial speed, and we thought that would be the last we saw of him.


Ice creams in hand, we strolled back to Antalya International University where we were staying and where the course was being run.

As we rounded the final corner, we spotted Köfte Man again, this time parked at the side of a junction with one of the main dual carriageways into Antalya.  The van’s bed had been opened up to create an awning, the fire had calmed down, and a table, table cloth, rug, table and patio chairs had appeared as if from no-where!


We took a few photos, and thought no more of it.

The next evening there was a bit of a disagreement over food in the dining hall, which I won’t go into here, but it ended up with Anette and I not really getting an evening meal.

We hatched a plan, and waited for the cover of darkness.

The University is on a very busy road, and the night before we had almost got run over walking along the hard shoulder, despite shining my phone in torch mode in front of us.  It seemed to turn the drivers into moths – they were suddenly attracted towards us, even though we were on the hard shoulder, and at times walking along the storm-curb.

For this reason, we had scoped out another route to the ice cream vendor the night before, and took a route that went cross-country to get to the ice creams.  We passed another köfte van, but felt loyalty to the first, and kept on towards our goal.

I always think that street food is a trick we miss out on in the UK, but I guess sitting at the side of the road on a patio chair on a rug would not be quite the same beside the A1(M) at Doncaster.  Even if they did serve the best köfte I’ve ever tasted.  I know my experience is limited, and I have little to compare it to, but it was just what the doctor ordered.

Anyway – the next day we recounted our adventure to the participants.  They were impressed with our of-the-beaten-trackness, and our köfte-fan-participant’s eyes lit up. Which takes us back to the beginning of this  anecdote.

However – it doesn’t end there…

A couple of weeks later I found another köfte van in Taksim Square park in Istanbul.  It would seem that there is adventure to be found near every köfte stall – this one was run by two entrepreneurial kids that seemed to be about 10 or 11.  I only had a 50 TL note, so handed that over.  They suddenly became very engrossed in something, and ‘forgot’ to give me my change.  I also had to pay for the köfte, then pay separately for the water I had asked for – in Turkish I might add! – not sure why they couldn’t add the two together, but there you go!

I posted a picture on Facebook.  The same participant got in touch and ‘liked’ the picture.  His only question was: ‘Did they have onions?!”


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