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May 09
Istanbul’s Spring Foods: The Wild Ones

Green plums at İnebolu Pazarı, photo by Roxanne Darrow

Spring arrives at the markets in Istanbul with a great deal of color and fanfare. Vendors arrange peas in perfect diagonal rows, displaying their goods to lure you into a multi-kilo purchase. Men furiously carve out artichoke hearts and toss them into lemon-water-filled bags, step around massive piles of trimmings and hand you what feels like a new goldfish purchase.Fava beans are ubiquitous in their fuzzy pods, although less appealing because of all the prep work that comes with them. Best to enjoy fava beans in a restaurant, zeytinyağlı-style (with olive oil) or in our favorite preparation, a garlicky mash like the chefs make at Müzedechanga in the Sabancı Museum.

Artichokes, fava beans and peas are not the only superstars of spring produce in İstanbul’s markets – the first fruits of the year are here, too. While shopping at the expansive Kadıköy market on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, we saw teens staining their fingers purple with mulberries. We hope each was careful to sift through the “Armani” underwear stands with his clean hand. Kids munched on small tart-sweet green plums as their moms shopped for pajamas. Ripe, dark-orange loquats and lusty wild strawberries gleamed among the sea of tender spring greens. Sold and sold.

These are all expected spring treats, but what about the underdogs?

Read the rest of this feature at Culinary Backstreets.

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