La Belle Au Bois Gourmand: Istanbul: the flavour of the kismet

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Istanbul: the flavour of the kismet

Exploring Istanbul by walk and climbing the way up to the Galata Tower or moving from the Treasury to the Harem inside the Topkapi Palace is a valid effort to burn all the calories one should need to dismiss after eating Turkish food.

The simplest and the healthiest you could have is NAR (word for pomegranate) squeezed
into cups. This precious and tasty juice is sweet and good for the body, as rich in folic acid, vitamin C and antioxidant power. Only benefit from this drinking. My advice is to drink it every day during daytime. As per the nights, the coolest ones, prefer cay (tea) or Salep.
Salep was a significant discovery for me.
It tastes as liquid, half solid milk pudding but instead is a nectar obtained from the roots of the Orchids. While the salesman told me this, I thought it was an epic description of it just to let this drinking be more appealing to me. Instead, truth is this really comes from Orchids and these flowers are now protected by the governament in order not to disappear from the face of the earth.

Down the Galata bridge -Eminönü T1 line-, the affordable meal for few Turkish Liras, is without any dobut the balik ekmek soft white bread with fish (mackerel) and salad. No sauces, lemon drops might be added by choice. The best thing of the balik ekmek is that the fish is grilled right in front of you. Note that the same area though can be quite expensive in the evening.
Other example of a street food proactivity is the durum, well known in every corner of Europe: wheat bread with kebab meat, lamb or chicken, salad, onions, spicy sauce.
While sitting in a restaurant you'll come across to meze, bits of food as a starter like beans, pide (bread), vegetables tartlets and yaprak sarma: a leaf of vine containing rice and very similar to the dolmadakia you could eat in Greece.

Coming back to street food simit and misir can be found everywhere, anytime in Istanbul.
Simit is a bread resembling the Germand bretzel but with sesame on it, while the latter, misir is a roasted sweetcorn then salted. This is a very cheap and tasty food you can immediately spot near Ayasofia Camii.
Any tourist seeks for souvenirs, what is better than returning hom with a bunch of lokum?
The first time I heard about it it was in the movie "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe": in a particular scene, Edmund challenged the bad Queen of Narnia to let show up in front of him tons of lokum. She managed and that was the time I discovered what the word lokum standed for. In Istanbul I had the chance to find out the enormous variety of flavours you can choose for your lokum.
They are know as turkish delights and they're done with gel of starch and sugar, plus they're flavoured as the imagination of the sellers in the Spice Market allows them to create' em.
My suggestion is that you avoid tricky sellers in the bazaars and prefer to go to a confectionary or patisserie dedicated to lokum. They will be much less expensive.
Although buying baklava or sweets cannot be that cheap if you think about the fact that the whole day of a Turkish person involves salted foood beginning with breakfast. Sweet is then considered as a treat.
For lunch go simple: a bowl of white rice with chicken near the Gran Bazaar, followed by a tea.
Later on, instead of tea time, try turkish coffee and predict your kismet, destiny, reading and interpreting the shapes obtained from rest of the cofee. To do so, turn upside down the cup when you finished drinking the liquid part and check when it becomes cold. Meanwhile, think about a question; when ready try to give a meaning to what your seeing.

Movie connection:

Almanya- Wilkommen in Deutschland by director Yasemin Samdereli

1 comment:

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