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October 6, 2015

THE TURKISH FLAVOURS FOOD TOUR – A CULINARY DELIGHT - ttt - 02

THE TOUR
The Gourmet Food Walking Tour begins with meeting your guide at 9.20 a.m out the front of the Egyptian Spice Bazaar and will conclude around 2.30 p.m on the Asian side of Istanbul. For this tour my local guide was a lovely lady called Taciser whom I found to be a warm and friendly person. With introductions and the general outline of the tour discussed, we were ready to start this exciting food journey through Istanbul. This is a full comprehensive tour and my one bit of advice is don’t go with a full tummy. Keep your breakfast light, as you will be taste testing throughout the day and of course lunch on top of the tastings.
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Our first food destination of the day was to stop by a couple of shops selling meats and cheese. At this particular part of the tour we discussed and tasted different breakfast items that would be typically served in a Turkish household. I was able to try some beyaz peynire which is a white cheese similar to fetta and the pastirma which is a highly seasoned cured beef, both of which are staples of a Turkish breakfast.
We then moved on to looking at all the different types of food that is typically on the Turkish menu. Taciser pointed out different pastes, dried vegetables and took me through how she would prepare a meal with a particular paste or spice. Taciser offers a real insight into the culture of Turkey through it’s food, which she cleverly interlaces with interesting stories and it’s history.
With myself being a Westerner, it was quite fascinating to see food that I have never encountered before. One such item was the Ceviz Sucuk (pictured above). It reminded me of the sticky sap of a tree but Taciser informed that it was what they call a ‘dry or walnut sausage’. The one pictured above actually contained walnuts dipped into a sticky substance that had been drying for around 5-6 days.
On the tour you will meet many of the friendly market vendors, which make this tour really personal. Many of which are highly engaging and will be excited to show you what they are making. There are no high pressure sales here either, it’s all just friendly banter, which I felt made this tour authentic.
The next place we dropped by we were greeted with a smile from this lovely lady behind the counter. This shop was dedicated to making borek. Borek is a baked pastry that can be filled with a variety of ingredients. The most common being fetta cheese, parsley and oil added between the layers of pastry and then baked. Borek is another traditional dish that originated in Turkey during the early Ottoman empire.
This was one of my favourite stops, mainly because the gentleman here was so friendly and you could see he was proud of his work. Here we watched the art of pide making by hand. Pide is made with simple ingredients of flour, yeast, sugar and water and can be made with different types of fillings. There’s nothing like tasting freshly made pide straight from the oven.
The bakers showing us how to make Turkish pide.
Next it was time to have something to drink and we stopped at this fresh juice place. If you ever get the chance to visit Istanbul, then please try the pomegranate juice when it is in season, they are famous for it. We also tasted the cherries which were absolutely delicious and enormous as you can see from the picture above.
Baklava is a delicious sweet that is made from layers of filo (also known as phyllo) pastry and held together with honey and syrup. The filling is usually walnuts, pistachio nuts or a combination of both. Dolama is made with a single layer of filo pastry and filled with pistachio nuts which give the dolama a distinct green colour.
There are different varieties of baklava, where some are made with milk instead of the sweet honey syrup.
Throughout the Egyptian spice market you can find some delectable sweets. None so more than the lokum, which you will know in English as Turkish delight. I know for myself living in Australia, that I’m used to seeing the basic type of Turkish delight which is mainly a gel of starch and sugar and flavoured with rosewater. Come to Istanbul and you will discover that there are many varieties of Turkish delight. The traditional Turkish delight is made with honey instead of sugar and whilst in the spice market you can find these varieties made the traditional way at certain vendors. Try out some Turkish delight filled with pistachio nuts or almonds or incased with dried rose petals or chocolate rice crisps …. there are many takes on this delightful treat.

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