(Editor’s Note: As 2010 heads to an end, we are looking back at our “Best Bites” of the year and are asking our readers to do the same and share their best Istanbul eating moments with us. This submission (after the jump) comes from Budapest residents Bob Cohen and Fumie Suzuki, who had a very memorable iftar feast in Faith’s Siirt market (AKA the Kadınlar Pazarı).)
I submit this for Fumie and my own best eating experience in Istanbul: Iftar feast in the Fatih Siirt market. Not only because of the food — and you know I am a big fan of the roast lamb and lavash Ocakbasi places that ring the market, and even sneak off to there to eat alone since the fare tends to be a bit heavy for Fumie’s Japanese constitution. But we wanted to see how devout Muslims break their fast — Fatih style, not Beyoglu style — and so off to conservative Fatih we went. We crossed the park near Aqueduct where the free Iftar was being laid out, and while taking pictures, we were also invited to partake. But we had our heart on the Siirt Market. It was hard to choose from amongst the restaurants — all had tables laid outside ready with cig kebab, salad, and as diners would take a seat, waiters brought out lots of bottled cold water, bowls of ayran, and finally, soup. As the moment when the minaret signaled the end of the day, people fiddled with their water bottles, tinkered with their place settings, and chatted. And when the magic moment came there wasn’t a cheer or any audable rustle, just people determinedly opening water and drinking deep, lighting long awaited cigarettes, and slurping soup. Waiters shot into action around the square, loading tables with huge platters brimming with bulgar, lahmajun, kebabs, and of course, the house lamb. Afterwards we sat in a huge tent drinking tea listening to ashiks take turns singing and playing on saz. Someone a our table explained about the difficulty of fasting in last summer’s unrelenting heat “It is difficult. But we are all people. This is something we can do.” A better introduction to what Ramazan represents could not be imagined.