Editor’s note: This week Istanbul Eats is celebrating Istanbul’s vibrant (and sometimes plain wacky) street food scene with a highly subjective look at five of our favorite street foods and some of the best places to get them. We’ll be writing about a different food every day, so join us as we work our way up to #1 on Friday.
We’ve never learned his name and at this time of the year he is probably preparing for his winter hibernation. But we eagerly await the reappearance in the spring of the vendor we know simply as the “cucumber man of Galata” (pictured above, smoking), a chubby fellow with Coke-bottle glasses who sells what may be the city’s simplest, yet most satisfying street food: peeled and salted cukes, a fresh green rebuke to all those starchy and fried snacks out there.
Beginning in late spring, when the weather starts to warm up, the cucumber man parks his rickety little cart in the plaza in front of the Galata Tower, where he stays until the weather turns in the fall. His method is simple: take a chilled cucumber, peel it, slice it twice down the middle so that it splays out like a flower and salt it generously. It may sound basic, but on a hot summer’s day, the cucumber man usually has a good crowd that gathers around his cart clamoring for this refreshing bite (this past summer he branched out and started selling carrots and apples, too). Of course, at 50 kuruş (33 cents) a cucumber, it’s a snack that’s hard to refuse.
Address: Plaza in front of the Galata Tower, Galata
Telephone: No phone
(photo by Jonathan Lewis)