“I want to go to the soccer match, everything must go! Game day discount! Hamsi, one Lira! One Lira!” the fishmonger shouted from a rickety stand spread with fresh fish glistening under a bare light bulb. Judging by the cackles coming other fishmongers and tables at the adjacent fish house, this man was a common source of amusement, a well-known village idiot. “I just sent a message to one of my customers to come and buy these fish for 1 lira. He sent a reply that he’s in America! Imagine that, America!” he said, navigating the menus on his cell phone to show us.
Unlike the fish markets of Beyoğlu and Kumkapı, which have grown savvy to the tourist hordes that trample through, that of Samatya – a thoroughly authentic neighborhood by the southwestern edge of Istanbul’s city walls – seems a place frequented mostly by Samatyans. The feeling, upon entering this small plaza of meyhane and fish stands, is that you’ve wandered into the kitchen of a very hospitable, curious family.
That’s the Samatya fish market for you – a sleepy place with small town main street atmosphere ala Turca, where a text message sent from America is a newsworthy event. (Click here  to read the rest of this archived review)