WednesdayFiled under Features, Out of Istanbul
They weren’t easy to spot at first: tiny green shoots with reddish roots, scarcely an inch high, poking out of the mud along the banks of a brackish stream near the Aegean town of Alaçatı. From these unpromising beginnings come a dish known to nearly every patron of a Turkish meyhane: nutrient-rich deniz börülcesi (samphire), typically served boiled and dressed with olive oil, lemon, and garlic.
The simple word ot, which translates to “herb” or “weed,” doesn’t do justice to the important – and delicious – role these wild greens play in the cuisine of Turkey’s Aegean region. Though most commonly served as zeytinyağlılar, dishes “with olive oil” like the classic deniz börülcesi salad, their versatility was on full display at the recent Alaçatı Ot Festivali, an annual celebration of all things leafy and green.
Stands set up at the entrance to town were piled high with homemade ot-themed eats, from ısırgan (nettle) bread to kekik (thyme) honey, zeytinyağlı radika (chicory with olive oil) to mallow-flower jam.
Read the rest of this feature at Culinary Backstreets.
All entries filed under Features
no responses - Posted 04.19.16
Architectural and historical monuments of the Ottoman Era, the hans and caravansaray that freckle the old city have mostly been left to their own devices. Originally built as imposing weigh stations for incoming traders, today they are crumbling in places and patched up with duct tape in others. These buildings are ...continue
no responses - Posted 04.01.16
Rashed wandered aimlessly in the dark, autumn leaves and twigs crunching under him with each step. Apart from the light from his Samsung, the scene around him was pitch black. “I just need to get signal so they can send me a recording of Lulu’s voice,” he said, hopeful but frustrated. Lulu ...continue
no responses - Posted 03.16.16
Tucked away in an alley in Istanbul’s Aksaray neighborhood, Şirket Alahdab is a small grocery store overflowing with Syrian staples: pickled baby eggplants, dried leafy greens, cans of clotted cream for desserts. When we enter the store, Istanbul temporarily fades away and Damascus or Aleppo take its place. “All real,” ...continue
no responses - Posted 12.15.15
Editor’s note: To give 2015 a proper send-off, we’re taking a look back at all our favorite eating experiences this year. Hamo’nun Yeri The nohut dürüm, a simple wrap of mashed chickpeas, peppers, parsley and spices, may be a popular breakfast choice in certain districts of the southeastern province of Gaziantep, but ...continue
no responses - Posted 11.24.15
Şehzade Erzurum Cağ Kebabı is one of our favorite places in Istanbul for a satisfying, lamby meal. You could easily walk past its handful of outdoor tables, tucked into a bustling pedestrian-only shopping street in the Sirkeci neighborhood. But if you stay, proprietor and head grill master Özcan Yıldırım will make ...continue
no responses - Posted 11.13.15
Editor's note: In the latest installment of our ongoing series First Stop, we asked Stavriani Zervakakou, chef of the restaurant Karaköy Gümrük in Istanbul, where she stops first for food when she returns to Istanbul. (We've written previously about her First Stop in Athens.) Lamb liver skewers in the Aksaray district’s Horhor ...continue
no responses - Posted 11.11.15
By the name of the place, you’d expect the Sütçüler (“Milkmen” in English) district near Isparta in southern Turkey to be a dairyland paradise, thick on the ground with men carrying buckets sloshing fresh milk, cheese wheels stacked in cool dark sheds, verdant hills freckled with cows. But there are ...continue
no responses - Posted 10.29.15
On any given night, bustling, narrow Nevizade Street in the heart of Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district buzzes with thick crowds of evening revelers searching for the best table while clean-shaven waiters in their customary uniform of pressed white shirts and V-neck sweaters attempt to lure the crowds into their establishments. Hyperactive as ...continue
no responses - Posted 09.07.15
Stretching 25 feet alongside a pharmacy in the heart of Istanbul's Şişli district, just a three-minute stroll from Osmanbey metro station (Pangaltı exit), lies Uğur’s fruit and vegetable stand. Day in and day out, come rain or shine, Uğur sits and smiles, utterly engulfed by the fruits and vegetables he sells. ...continue
no responses - Posted 08.31.15
For many (us here at Culinary Backstreets included), the city of Gaziantep is without a doubt the culinary mecca of Turkey. Located not far from Turkey’s southern border, a meeting point between the Arab Middle East and Turkish Anatolia, Gaziantep over the centuries has developed a culinary culture that is ...continue