Flavours of the Street: Turkey

Just as the title reveals and immediately evokes craving, the book focuses on the special tastes of Turkey one can find along the streets. Street food culture is very prominent in Turkey, especially in metropolitan cities like İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir. It is common to see street vendors selling a variety of foods, from fruits to simple cooked meals like rice and chicken, and delicious pastries like boyoz, a specialty in İzmir, to complicated one-bite-food like icli kofte.

Although walking and eating is not something specifically appreciated in Turkish culture, one can see groups of people around street vendors’ hand-pushed carts enjoying the food. This also somehow attaches a social value to eating in the street, because it increases the possibility of encountering different people living in the city. If one is into street food, one might soon learn that most mussel sellers are from Mardin, or that the man who is famous for the meatballs he makes and sells from his small cart in Balat is a former cook.

The streets of Turkey host many traditional and widely accepted delicacies, but they are, like many other things in a developing country, sensitive to dramatic changes. Bozdogan, who holds culinary honors, such as a professional chef diploma with distinction from the French Culinary Institute in New York and certifications in cooking and baking at the Bath School of Cookery in England and the Culinary Institute of America in Poughkeepsie, also mentions the changes in the last decade.

Bozdogan’s first book was based on meticulous research she undertook in 2003. She starts this new edition with the reasons for the need for a new book on street food of Turkey. She writes in her book: “[Since 2003] a lot has changed in Turkey, politically, economically and culturally, including popular culinary practices. The country’s traditionally vibrant street commerce in edible goods, to which this book is dedicated, remains alive and well. […] Yet the increased impact of globalization and the concomitant changes in consumption patterns have ushered in many changes, some for the better, and others leaving us with palpable sense of nostalgia.” In order to argue the effect of these changes, Bozdogan first introduces the reader to the street food culture of Turkey, starting from Ottoman times. Enriching the introduction with personal stories and archive photos, Bozdogan presents a firm ground for street food culture so that the reader can assess the present-day situation.

After the introduction, the seasons start. Bozdogan practically divides the foods into the seasons, giving the reader a quick impression about when to find what on the streets. To list some of the food the book covers: Winter has quince, chestnuts, fish, also traditional drinks like sahlep and boza; spring brings artichokes, strawberries, liver kebabs and famous sherbets (fruit coolers); summer has ice cream, which is turned into a show for tourists by the sellers, watermelons, nuts and ayran; while autumn comes with corn, pumpkins, figs and meyan sherbet. Of course, besides the seasonal tastes, the streets of Turkey host some food that is available all year round. Allocating a separate part to these foods, Bozdogan mentions simit, bread, sandwiches, baklava and mirra, among others.

Turkey is admired by many people for the richness, quality and cheapness of its street food and stands as an important example of a culinary culture which still has a lot of local and traditional foods being sold in the streets. Bozdogan’s book documents a great deal of this culture with its coverage of seasonal and all year round tastes while also providing background information related to the topic. It would be fair to say that “Street Foods of Turkey” is a perfect guide for visitors while also being an important source for anyone with a culinary interest in Turkish cuisine to own for future reference.





Source Zamam

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