What is your trick for handling jet lag?
What would you think about an all-day walk in the Old City of Istanbul with a group of lovely Americans all interested in experiencing some of Istanbul’s culinary delights?
This is exactly what I did.
Yesterday, the perfect day weather-wise for such an expedition, I met up with this lovely group in Eminönü and off we set. It was fun to see all the familiar street food vendors again who loved the fact that I had just got back from Australia…Australyaaaaa????
We wended our way through the crowded narrow backstreets, stopping every now and then to sample yet another local delicacy. Finally we reached Kadınlar Pazarı or the Women’s Market, in what is the nearest we have here to a Little Kurdistan. Most people there come from Siirt down in southeastern Turkey.
It’s a pleasant leafy area surrounded on all sides mostly by restaurants serving buryan kebabı, a succulent Kurdish lamb speciality cooked in a deep pit. At the end there is the iconic aqueduct built by the Emperor Valens in the 4th Century AD.
But yesterday just before we crossed the little road there to go to our restaurant, we spied a barrow selling something extraordinary:
There was a surly youth in attendance who said something unintelligible when I asked what it was. Not a smile there.
So we stared in amazement: these are the weirdest things you have ever seen: like a sort of rhubarb crossed with asparagus but with a prickly exterior.
Later, by asking the waiter over lunch with the help of a photo that Toby,one of the group had taken, we learnt that it’s a fruit from Siirt called içkın or, funnily enough, yayla muz which means bananas from the mountain pastures!! Nothing remotely like bananas here!
So this is another of those extraordinary sour fruits that seem to appeal to the Turkish palate but not to ours.
You may have tried the can erik/ those bright little green plums that should be eaten with salt. They are everywhere right now:
And how about çağla that appear in early spring? The unripe almonds in their fuzzy cases? Sour!!!
All a bit of a mystery really, especially when you consider how incredibly sweet the traditional desserts such as baklava, helva,and künefe are. Drenched in syrup, oozing with pistachios and walnuts, drizzled with yet more syrup, these are for many of us synonymous with Turkey!