Grabbing a bite to eat on the street is very much part of local life in Turkey. The wide selection of treats offered by street vendors tempted us over and over during our trip, and by the end, a few had become a part of our daily diet. Cheap and healthy–can’t complain about that.
On every other street corner, vendors sold Turkish bread rings covered in sesame seeds called ‘Simit’ that reminded us of Montreal-style bagels. Sliced in half and filled with cheese and tomatoes, these became our breakfast staple along with a freshly squeezed juice. A note to hungry travelers: we made the mistake of ordering some as we waited overnight at the Istanbul airport–dry and hard–not the same. Get ’em fresh on the street.
In Istanbul, a man pushing a cart full of oranges, selling freshly squeezed orange juice for 1 Turkish Lira–that’s 50 cents Canadian. And at juice stalls in Izmir, we could select from pomegranate, orange, apples, strawberries and other fruits for the same price. As Natasha put it, “This would be 5 to 8 dollars in Canada–no joke!” You can understand why we got two or three a day!
Other foods we tried as we explored the streets of Istanbul included ‘Misir’, boiled or grilled corn on the cob sprinkled with salt, and ‘Salatalik’, cucumbers that were peeled, quartered, and salted.
At the Kemeralti market in Izmir, we were offered green fruit that looked like little apples. Through a mix of broken English and Turkish, we finally figured out that they were plums: bitter and served with a sprinkling of salt.
And along the Kordon boardwalk we munched on sunflower seeds served in a newspaper cup.
As we crisscrossed the city in our hunt for tourist attractions, the fresh food markets drew us in time and time again.
In Istanbul we tried stringy cheese curd we’d mistaken for some sort of pasta, then picked up a bag of sugar-coated peanuts encrusted with sesame seeds, and got massive, gooey dates that melted in our mouths.
In Izmir, we’d planned on starting our day at the Agora ruins, but got side-tracked by the bustling market, where we ended up buying a grocery bag full of fresh strawberries for small change. Looking for a place to sit and devour them, we sat down at a fish stand, where we got a little adventurous and tried fried sardines, scales and all! It was yummier than it looks!
And when we did break to enjoy our snacks, we’d have Turkish tea of course, or a hot fruit juice that “tastes like Tang”.
Ginette and the girls