ThursdayFiled under Features
Editor’s note: We eagerly await the coming of spring each year, not just for the nicer weather but also because some of our favorite foods and dishes are at their best – or indeed, are only available – for a short period during this season. Here we take a look at Istanbul’s top springtime eats.
This year’s Nevruz celebration, an ancient welcoming of spring, may be remembered for its political significance in which a peace deal was struck between Turkish leaders and Kurdish rebels. But once the shoulder-shrugging, line-dancing, fire-jumping and ululating are over, the real bounty of the season will continue to be celebrated all over Turkey and in many Istanbul restaurants, from the chic to the shabby.
“Sultani bezelye rule!” exclaimed Şemsa Denizsel, chef-owner of Kantin, when we recently stopped by for lunch at her Nişantaşı restaurant. Like a favorite uncle in town for the holidays, these sugar snap peas brightly decorated one corner of the plate that held our bahar salatası, a simple “spring salad” that featured all our favorites of the season, including chunks of artichoke hearts and vividly green fava beans.
The rest of this feature can be found on CulinaryBackstreets.com, here.
All entries filed under Features
no responses - Posted 03.12.13
Lahmacun is one of those mysterious foods where a lot is created with so little. It checks all of the boxes of a perfect savory snack: crispy, oven-fired crust, light and spicy meat spread, a fresh green garnish and a tangy spray from a lemon. It’s like an artisanal pizza ...continue
no responses - Posted 03.08.13
In a 2003 TV commercial for Cola Turka, the actor Chevy Chase was seen speaking Turkish and then sporting a moustache, after taking just one sip of the intended challenger of Coke in this country. This sensational ad – which riffed on the old theme of American cultural imperialism through ...continue
no responses - Posted 01.18.13
Until we visited some of Istanbul’s shrines to the baked bean, we generally regarded the dish as something eaten out of a can beside railroad tracks. But Turkey takes this humble food, known as kuru fasulye, seriously; that means chefs in tall toques carefully ladling out golden beans in a ...continue
no responses - Posted 01.04.13
The fatty torik – the Turkish name for a large, mature Atlantic bonito, similar to the little tunny – courses the straits of the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles for just a short period each year in November and December. Yet the people of Istanbul eat it year-round by preserving the ...continue
no responses - Posted 12.28.12
After four years of publishing weekly dispatches from Istanbul’s culinary backstreets, we are still regularly surprised by new discoveries, impressed by the staying power of old standards and shocked by how quickly so much can change. For better or for worse, it is that dynamism that Istanbulites line up for, ...continue
no responses - Posted 11.12.12
The arrival of fall in Istanbul usually means one thing for us: hamsi season is about to begin. Hamsi, of course, are the minuscule fish (Black Sea anchovies) that Istanbulites are mad about, and the coming of fall and the cooling of the waters of the Black Sea mark the beginning ...continue
no responses - Posted 10.19.12
There’s nothing like a debate about “urban renewal” – often touted by municipal governments as a way to repurpose run-down urban areas for gentrification – to work up a good appetite. In a city like Istanbul, a teeming metropolis of 15 million people working to build a modern life among ...continue
no responses - Posted 09.21.12
We like to think of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar – open since 1461 – as the world’s oldest shopping mall. If that’s the case, shouldn’t the Grand Bazaar be home to the world’s oldest food court? That may be taking the analogy too far, but for us, the Grand Bazaar can ...continue
2 responses - Posted 07.30.12
In the evolutionary process of the Istanbul fish restaurant, there was a moment in the late 1990’s when the amphibious, shore-hugging boat restaurants crawled out of the Bosphorus and became land dwellers. Overnight, yellow Wellington boots became black loafers as seafaring grill men became restaurateurs and waiters. Some rue the day ...continue
2 responses - Posted 07.19.12
Think of Ramadan, which begins this evening in many parts of the world, as a kind of month-long biathalon that consists of an all-day race to beat back the hunger and thirst of fasting, followed by an all-night marathon of eating and drinking in order to fortify the body for ...continue