local food, Istanbul
Ayran is a yogurt-based drink that is served in almost every restaurant & cafe in Istanbul, as well as Turkey for that matter. It is basically yogurt mixed with water, and salt is added. Ayran is usually drunk with a meal, but is also enjoyed as a refreshment on its own. Personally, this is one of the few traditional Turkish cuisine items that I don't particularly care for. I have tried it on several occasions, but it is just something about the saltiness of it that doesn't sit well with me. But by no means should this discourage you from trying it, as millions of people here love it! :)
Simit is a semi-tough bread that is in the shape of a ring, and covered with sesame seeds. As you walk the streets of Istanbul, you will see it being sold all over by vendors. Most of the vendors sell it out of little carts or stands, but some even have a stack of it on top of their heads! Wherever they have it, make sure you pick some up! It is a great snack to have while strolling through the city!
Along the Golden Horn on the Eminönü side, right next to the Galata Bridge, you will see several make-shift stands with vendors grilling fish. You will most likely also see a long line of people at these places. What they are waiting for is a delicious Balik Ekmek, or Fish & Bread sandwich. The sandwiches are very basic - a grilled fish fillet and onions placed in between 2 pieces of dry bread. And they are cheap, only a couple of New Lira. It's quite interesting sometimes how popular, and tasty for that matter, such a simple concept can be! Until recently, the local fisherman in the area used to dock their boats at the piers, then cook & sell the fish right off of their boats. This practice has been banned, but thankfully the yummy sandwiches are still here! Stop by and pick up one with a coke, have a seat in the grass, and enjoy one of Istanbul's simple pleasures! :)
Kokoreç, oh my, Kokoreç! :) Sold on many street corners throughout Istanbul, it is basically a flattened sandwich on toasted bread, with sheep intestines and a little pepper and spices. My friends, who are native Turks, decided to play a little trick on me one night, and tell me we would get some street food, that was made of beef. When we got some kokore? at a local street vendor near Taksim, I began eating it, and thought it was quite delicious. I never even suspected I was being dooped! :) After we finished, my friends informed me of what I had really eaten! After my initial gag reflex went away, I was like, "Hey, whatever it was, it was pretty good!". It is definately a great tasting fast food choice while in Turkey. But the question is, do you know what you are eating?!! :)
Without sultans to please, the world would have been the poorer. Turkish delight, that sticky candy known in the Middle East as “lokum” or “rahat lokum” might never have been invented.
According to the legend, the candy, whose name means “morsel of contentment,” is 230 years old. The sultan, with 100 women cooped up in his harem, needed some sweet treat to keep the ladies (and their numerous offspring) happy. The cook came up with Turkish delight.
He boiled cornstarch, sugar and water until it became a thick gluey mass, threw in some pistachio nuts, added a splash of rosewater, and let the whole thing set. Then he cut it into little squares and dunked them in powdered sugar, so they could be picked up with the fingers and daintily eaten (although the powdered sugar scatters everywhere). It was a big hit (and has been the source of delight for dentists all over the Middle East ever since).
Turkish delight traveled westward in the 19th century, when a sweet-toothed British visitor shipped a few cases home. If you love lokum (as my husband does), you are in good company. It was a favorite of Napoleon, Churchill and Picasso.
Today there are entire stores dedicated to this gummy confection, such as Koska and Heci Bekir. It is worth visiting one of these shops for the visual experience alone. Hundreds of little cubes of Turkish delight are arranged on trays in pale pinks, greens and yellows, some dusted with white powder, others rolled in coconut or studded with nuts. You can buy the candy by the box, or choose a little of each kind from the display and pay by weight.
I'll just start out by saying that I am not a coffee drinker. Never really liked the stuff. So I wasn't really excited about trying Turkish coffee, but wanting to try anything and everything I could while I was here, i gave it a shot! I have to say that I was plesantly surprised. I really enjoyed it, and I had some everyday for the rest of my time in Istanbul, and continue to enjoy it to this day. The differences between Turkish coffee and other types of coffee are of course it's being quite strong, and the fact that it is very finely ground. But the big difference is in the way it is prepared. A couple of spoonfuls of the coffee are added to hot water in a "cezve", the small stovetop pot that is used to make it. The mixture is not stirred, and while heating up, it starts to rise to the top of the cezve. When it gets to the top, a small portion is poured into a Turkish coffee cup, which is small in size, similar to an espresso cup. Then the cezve is placed back on the stove until the coffee rises again, and then some more is poured into the cup. This is repeated 1 or 2 more times until the cup is full, and then it's ready to be served. Occasionally a little sugar is added to the coffee while in the cezve, but I tend to like it without. Definately something to try though while in Turkey!
All over Istanbul, you'll see small carts with circles of bread covered in sesame seeds for sale...this is simit. Although it doesn't really taste of much, just bread that's almost stale, it is surprisingly addictive...and if you don't like it, you can always throw it to the pigeons in Taksim Square, or to the seagulls as they follow the ferries. The man who seels simit is called a simitci, and simitciler are found on practically every street corner, especially around breakfast time.
Recently, a number of cafes have taken simit on a step further, removing the hole and adding fillings such as cheese, olives and spicy sausage. Look out for Simit Sarayi, which has branches all over the city, and its copycats Simithane and Istanbul Simit. They are always popular with students, as you can get a cheap and filling breakfast here at any time of the day. The one next to Burger King at the top of Istiklal Caddesi has a particularly nice rooftop terrace overlooking Taksim Square, and many a heated discussion went on there over a simit and a steaming glass of cay.
Turkish ice cream is very different to its european counterpart...for a start, it is a lot thicker and can be eaten with a knife and fork if you wish. The reason for this is that it is made with crushed orchid root, which explains how the ice-cream sellers can throw whole lumps of the stuff into the air and pound it with a huge stick. Its sticky quality also helps them play tricks with their customers and some of them are real showmen attracting quite a crowd.
Kahramanmaras is the city most famous for this ice cream, and dondurma means ice cream. The dondurma comes in three or four different flavours, and you'll generally be given a selection of all without being asked :)
Balik Ekmek (Fish and Bread) is one thing you must eat in Istanbul, even if you are not that fond of fish (I'm not...if I can stomach it and recommend it, then I'm sure you can too!). Many restaurants and cafes along the Galata Bridge offer fried or grilled fish sandwiches with salad for about 3YTL, which is fine....but for some reason it tastes a lot better when you buy your sandwich directly from one of the boats bobbing up and down in the water just close to the bridge in Eminonu. Sometimes these boats are allowed to trade, other times it is forbidden, depending on the day, the weather and whether the police are hungry or not. Sit at one of the makeshift tables, smother your fish in lemon and salt, and wash it down with a "drink" of turshi (pickled vegetables in bright pink vinegar) if you dare!
The Turkish cuisine is very famous in the world.
While walking in Istanbul i saw a lot of places to eat - almost every second store is a food store.
They have a lot of simit stands outside and people selling simit while walking with a large mountain of simit on their head.
Simit is like a round bread.
They drink a lot of yogurt called ayran as far as i remember and also with Kebaps.
Turkey is a Kebaps heaven - a lot of kebaps vendors and stores - sometimes even store next to another.
If you want my opinion (and I'm sure you do, otherwise you wouldn't be browsing these pages), Efes dark is by far the best beer you can find in the Middle East. It is brewed in Istanbul by Anadolu Efes Brewery, which also produces a German style pilsner called simply Efes (boring) and a strong lager called Efes Extra (interesting, but it's hard to drink in the heat).
Efes dark is generally available by the bottle, more rarely also by the draught. It's semi-sweet in the foretaste and bitter in the aftertaste, with hints of malt and maybe liquerice or chocolate, I was too drunk to tell.
Well, the Turkish kitchen is a rich and diverse one, and your stomach will thank you for bring you here!
People in Istanbul like to eat late, in common with Greece, Spain and Italy. There is an emerging cafe culture here and you can get a bit to eat at anytime of the day.
Turkish food consists of a mixture of many things.. kebabs, mezzes, lahmacun, pasteries, you name it.. It's all here and it's wonderful. Turkish ice cream (go to MADO CAFES!) is great too, plus the abundance of local sweets.. Delicious!
Turkish breakfast is continental style, usually with bread, olives, cheese, fruits etc.
Istanbul is heaven for fish lovers..Some fishes are only found in Bosphorus like the Blue fish and they taste great..
Istinye Fish market is one of the best alternatives when you want to buy some fish for the house..
If you are a tourist with an average luck and need to eat outside, try balik-ekmek (fish-bread) boats in Istinye and Yenikoy..
You can have a delicious fish for 2 dollars..
Turkish coffee. No sugar. Enjoyable.
Don't dare to leave the country before having tried this small cup of aromathic beverage. What?!!!
You do not drink coffee? Ok they have turkish
orange Fanta as well... Go ahead!!!
I am just forget how much did I pay for a cup of coffee. It is not on my records. I was not surprised by the price...It means is a reasonable price for the gem.
In the late afternoon and in the evening there are many fishermen boats, along the piers in central Istanbul, who cook and sell fresh fish.
Sandwiches with grilled or fried sardines are the most popular with locals, as well as mussels stuffed with rice and spices.