I’m staying in Bakýrköy, a densely populated middle class residential suburb of Istanbul, Turkey on its western (European) side, on the North-eastern
coast of the Sea of Marmara. Bakýrköy is an important shopping and commercial centre for Istanbul.
In Byzantine times Bakýrköy was a separate community outside Istanbul and was called Hepdoman, and Makrohori (‘the distant place’) which was distorted to Makriköy in the Ottoman period, when many large houses were built here. In 1925 this was changed to Bakýrköy in a move to eliminate all place names of non-Turkish origin.
I’ve been doing so much over the last three days (gosh, it feels like a week!) that it’s hard to know where to start. I guess here is a good place to begin. The apartment where I stay is just 2 minutes from the sea. It’s been very hot since I arrived – yesterday was 40 degrees. There’s some great sunsets here – here’s a shot of the sun dipping down.
Istanbul is awash with wonderful fruits and vegetables, amazing spice shops, and wonderful dairy products. There are over 40 types of yogurts eaten here – it is truly the yogurt capital of the world. The most famous yogurt product is the very delicious and very healthy and digestive Ayran, a thick drink made from yogurt, salt and water. I’ve had fun checking out the supermarkets.
Ayran has become so popular in Turkey that it is often regarded as a separate market in contrast to the juice and soda industries, and is a challenge for “modern” soft-drink companies such as Coca-Cola. Even McDonalds has it on their menu here.
On my first day I went from local shop to shop marvelling at the ingredients. Our local corner deli had 25 types of sesame halva! The owner was so eager to be in my photo that I had to take this shot.
It’s melon season. The yellow melons (kavun kirkagaj) are white inside and taste like sweet nectar! Kavun means melon and Kirkagaj means the name of place in Turkey where it grows. They say if you can find a good one, you can keep it at least one year on the shelf.
The range of dried fruits and nuts is truly breathtaking.
I was interested to note the dried white mulberries, which taste like drier-than-normal figs. Their name is pronounced like ‘toot’.
There’s also a big range of dried vegetables, especially eggplants, peppers and okra. The black ones below are the eggplants.
Probably the most impressive for me is the range of grains. A feast for the eyes!