Continuing from where I left off on my previous diary entry, I shall now move on to another aspect of Istanbul that had left a deep impression on us - the food! Istanbul is without a doubt a food haven and it was a lure that was so hard to resist for food-junkies like me and my husband! Furthermore, the lower cost of living (relative to that in Europe) meant that we could indulge in the local food to our heart’s content and also get to interact more with the locals during mealtime! That is what we call killing two birds with one stone!
Before arriving in Istanbul, my husband and I would always associate Turkish food with doner kebab. Oh boy, we soon realized how ignorant we were when we were presented with the wide variety of food in Istanbul! From the interactions with the restaurant owners/chefs to the taste of the food and even to the plating of the dishes, it was very obvious that the locals take great pride in their food. Much as we wanted to learn more about the Turkish cuisine that is central to the lives of the Turks, the short stay in Istanbul had literally made it impossible to become an expert in Turkish food all at once. We were also faced with the challenge of not knowing how to differentiate Turkish cuisine from Greek cuisine, both of which shared many similarities. What we do know for sure is that we had gained weight post-trip from all that eating in Istanbul! I shall now let the photos do all the talking...
|A cart selling Simit (a circular bread with sesame seeds) - common breakfast item in Istanbul|
|Appetizer: Hummus with Olive oil (left) and tomato-based Acili ezme (right)|
|Chicken Shish Kebab with Pilaf rice|
|Beef stew that literally melts in the mouth...|
|Tavuk Kiremit (chicken casserole)|
|Grilled chicken with rice|
|Durum (Turkish wrap)|
|Turkish tea after meals|
|The complimentary Turkish delight that got us hooked!|
|The whole range of Turkish delights in the Spice market|
|Carts selling roasted chestnuts - supper anyone?|
Mealtime is when most of the social bonding occurs worldwide and this is also very apparent in Istanbul. In almost all of the eatery that we went, the owner would try to make it a point to get to know their customers. Simple interactions like asking where we are from, sincere recommendations and explanations about the food and even kind gestures like offering the Turkish tea/Turkish delights post-meals make the whole dining experience a pleasant one. Some even went a step further by asking how our trip was and even provided recommendations and directions to where to visit next. Their hospitality was kind of overwhelming in a good way!
This first trip to Istanbul has truly been a wonderful one and we would definitely love to visit other parts of Turkey when the opportunity arises in the future!