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.
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no responses - Posted 03.07.16
Wave after wave of migration from Anatolia has bestowed upon Istanbul a population of 15 million at bare minimum, with countless pockets of the city representing villages and districts from every last corner of the country. In the neighborhood of Feriköy, those originally hailing from the eastern province of Erzincan have ...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 08.06.15
Don’t people just love to fight about food? Punch-ups over which city makes the best pizza, brawls about what’s the right way to barbecue. Louis and Ella nearly called the whole thing off over the pronunciation of the word “tomato.” In this pugilistic spirit, we took our place at a couple ...continue
no responses - Posted 07.24.15
Standing behind the counter at his small bici bici shop in the Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul, Cuma Usta recalls the first time he headed up into the mountains with his uncles in search of wild ice, one of the key ingredients in this Turkish snow cone treat sold from street ...continue
no responses - Posted 07.16.15
Ali Bey, the owner of a cubby-sized restaurant in Küçük Pazarı called Kısmet, sounded a bit like Bubba Gump listing the items on his menu: “We've got chicken soup, fried chicken gizzards, shredded chicken breast, dark chicken meat too, chicken and rice, chicken with onions and peppers, and chicken breast ...continue
no responses - Posted 04.13.15
Dear Culinary Backstreets, I'm planning to visit Cappadocia this summer, and while I have my sightseeing and walking itinerary all lined up, I would love to know where I can find the best places to eat in the region. Can you help? Cappadocia suffers from what I’d call Sultanahmet Syndrome, which means ...continue
no responses - Posted 04.06.15
The city of Edirne sits on the borders of Bulgaria and Greece in the far northwestern and European portion of Turkey. Once the capital of the Ottoman Empire, Edirne has been occupied for thousands of years, dating back to the Romans and Thracians before them. While no longer the seat ...continue
no responses - Posted 03.26.15
The Yaveş Gari Bodrum chapter of the international Slow Food movement organized the first Slow Cheese Festival of Turkey, which took place March 5 to 8 this year. We were lucky enough to experience it for ourselves. Local food cultures and small-scale food producers everywhere are at risk of disappearing due ...continue
no responses - Posted 01.30.15
Istanbul’s eaters are spoiled by opportunities to eat great beans – and in the Turkish kitchen that means white beans, in particular, and if you’re lucky, the şeker fasulye type grown in Eastern Turkey’s İspir region. We’ve tried countless subtle variations on roughly the same recipe and, wiping mouth on sleeve ...continue
no responses - Posted 12.22.14
Editor’s note: To cap off our annual review of the year’s best eating experiences, we’ve unleashed our imaginations to create the Turkish food court of our dreams. After a period of protest, we finally broke down and visited the Zorlu Center, a new, high-profile shopping mall in Istanbul and a showcase ...continue