Ali Usta Kokoreç: Gut Master
Recently, while continuing our research into how kokoreç (grilled lamb intestines) became a fast-food staple in Istanbul, we were told by our favorite kelleci (vendor of cooked sheep’s head), Muammer Usta, about one of the oldest kokoreç masters around. Ali Usta’s shop is in Dolapdere, down the hill from the Tarlabaşı Sunday market and just past a large plane tree that is a neighborhood landmark, standing among tiny workshops, furniture depots and decrepit old residential buildings.
We’d come here to better understand the background of kokoreç culture in Istanbul: how and when it changed from a dubious street food into a widely loved fast food. With almost 50 years of hands-on kokoreç experience, Ali Usta is one of the few resources on the subject. As he explains, in late 1960s Istanbul, kokoreç – made by wrapping stringy, springy lamb intestines around a core of skewered sweetbreads or other offal – was a street food delicacy loved by a few but not yet discovered by the masses. Of course, the masses had not yet arrived. Today Istanbul has a population of some 15 million hungry souls, but in 1968, it was a city of only one or two million people. “You didn’t find kokoreç on every corner but those who knew it, ate it,” Ali Usta said.
The rest of this review can be found on CulinaryBackstreets.com, here.
Post Tags: Beyoğlu, grill, Istanbul restaurants, kokoreç, street food