Istanbul: eating with the locals

Turkish people have a rich culinary culture. Food is an important aspect of their lives. Not only food itself, but also the people they share it with. Most of the time they visit each other and have family or friends gatherings. Isn´t that great? But how do i know this?

First, because some of my students are from Turkey and they always tell me about their weekend meals. So, when i visited Istanbul i had been already a bit familiar with some dishes. Besides, there are many Turkish restaurants in Vienna and we enjoy their food.

Second, i got to experience it in person, as my Instagram friends Ravza (@anciem) and Cem (@cemkiziltug) invited us to have breakfast together at their home. (see second featured picture below)

What can i say, today it still is one of my favorite breakfast experiences so far. Not only the food, but their hospitality as well. Turks are well known for their hospitality. Ravza, her husband and her cousin (@personofkuzcuncuk)  invited us to the best places. The last stop was at their cute apartment. Some of my favorites on the table were the pastrami (a dried beaf ham) and the fresh lor with honey (a whey cheese, similar to the Italian riccotta). I also loved the matching nuances of olives and the grilled, salty almonds. The locals usually have salty breakfasts, they´re not that much into sweet in the morning, like the french or the spaniards. Last, but definitively not least, the Turkish çai. Our awesome hosts would always bring us another black tea, seconds after finishing the last one. They have this special teapots where the tea boils for a long time. I drank like 5-6 tiny glasses of hot tea that morning. Glad i took them without sugar ;)

Other culinary experiences worth trying are the sarmas (cabbage leaves rolled arround a filling of rice and meat) and especially the dolmas (very similar, but smaller and with grape leaves). So tasty! Not to forget the kebab, the dürum and the shaorma. My students sometimes bring me homemade börek. My favorite is the typical, simple one, filled only with cheese.

The fish sandwiches at the fish markets are also a must. They´re stuffed with grilled, fresh fish, pepper, salad, onions and dressed with lemon juice. Eminönü fish sandwich boats next to Galata Bridge are a well known tradition, i love their authenticity. Tipp: as much as you enjoy grilled fish, try not to eat it when you´re very tired or late at night ;)

The lokum, of course. My favorite turkish delight. The best are the rose ones, but the barberry coated type are also great! Tipp: buy them at the special stores! Don´t buy them in boxes on the street. They´re cheaper, true, but not good at all.

Also worth mentioning are the baklavas, a sweet, so very sweet traditional pastry. There is this well known place, the Karaköy Güllüoglu, our 2 local friends Ravza and Cem took us to. They say you can eat the best baklavas there. For my taste, they´re too sweet, but if you want to try them i recommend the pistachio kind accompanied by lots of Turkish tea.

Baklavas aside, a healthier way to get through hot summer days are the watermelon and the pommegranate juices. The watermelons in Istanbul are huge!!! But if you´re out the entire day, keep hydrated with cold water and juices! 

You´ll find lots of street vendors selling little water boxes for one lira. And my favorite part, you can also buy fresh squeezed orange and pomegranate juice  the street. As much as i love pomegranate, the juices are a little bit sour though, but oh so needed, especially when visiting the hot, crowded Gran Bazaar.

And to finish my istanbulite culinary experience, i invite you to try the traditional ice cream, the dondurma. It is a funny experience, that´s all i´ll say. Tipp: don´t youtube or look it up. It´ll spoil everything. Let it surprise you ;)

So long, so far. Please feel free to comment and share your opinion. I´d love to hear how was YOUR culinary experience in this wonderful city.

love, i

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Istanbul, Constantinople..