Hi Frugalistas! My recent post on the Culinary Backstreets Istanbul Eats walk I took in Istanbul really struck a chord with readers. So many comments and so much discussion! The food and drink I’ve featured on my Instagram account has also generated a lot of discussion. So what are my favorite Turkish foods?
1. Street food
Whether it’s a fresh simit (a bread knot similar to a German bretzel, coated in sesame seeds), a pomegranate juice squeezed while you wait, or a fish sandwich from a vendor round the Galata Bridge, street food is cheap, tasty and easy to buy.
2. Turkish coffee
A thick syrupy Turkish coffee is a must try for anyone who loves a caffeine fix. Unlike the coffee you are more familiar with, Turkish coffee is not drunk at breakfast. Rather it is served later in the day, to be savoured and enjoyed. My favorite choices? Mandabatmaz just off Istiklal St in Beyoglu for coffee, coffee and just coffee, or Café Fez in the Grand Bazaar for the Rolls Royce, complete with Turkish Delight, almond delight and water to sip, all served on a perfect silver salver.
3. Turkish preserves
Turkish preserves are a mainstay of a typical Turkish breakfast. More like stewed fruit in a very thick syrup than a true jam, these are a must try from the breakfast buffet.
4. A kebab
Whether it’s a doner kebab from a street stall or takeaway, or one from a café where the meat is cooked over coals, the Turkish kebab is quite different to the kebab you have at home. Enjoy!
You see them everywhere – those sticky, sweet syrupy cakes made with phyllo pastry and nuts. Available in so many flavours and styles, it would take an extended stay to try them all. And the best part? They also come in take home packs!
You may know this better as Turkish Delight. But that pink, jelly like, rosewater flavoured confection bears no resemblance to real Turkish lokum. Available in so many flavours, with and without nuts, this is also a must try regardless of your previous experience. When you visit the lokum shop my tip is to study the different varieties on sale, then ask for a taste of your favorites before you buy. Make your choice, and then buy by weight.
There is so much I haven’t covered here. Dips, yoghurt, and Ottoman cuisine are all worthy of your time and taste buds. Enjoy fabulous local fish (tasty and cheap), Turkish ice cream, and, for the more adventurous, why not go the pickles I spoke about last time?
If you’ve been to Turkey, what food would you recommend?