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Istanbul, the city restaurant

Spices, embers, smoke, fish, flowers, orange. A sweet and hot aroma floats in the city, especially near the bazaars, at the beginning of the Golden Horn, under the Galata Bridge. Beyond the tourist topics, the weight of centuries of history, mosques and palaces, a zigzagging skyline of minarets, domes and skyscrapers, and the green hills that slide towards the Bosphorus, the entire city, Istanbul, with its three stages separated by water, is a great restaurant; a huge trough where people enjoy Savoring various specialties in the midst of a decoration of incomparable beauty.

A human whirlpool floods everything, sometimes it is difficult to walk through this city of 17 million people. To the step, the small stalls of natural juices become an irresistible temptation: delicious oranges, sweet gourds (it is still the season)… street carts offer freshly cut watermelon, caramel lollipops (macun) that get tangled in sticks before the stunned eyes of children, Breads, snacks, candy, ice cream, yogurt, etc.

The positions of donnër kebab, the Turkish fast food. Don't you think about confusing it with the kebap, grilled skewers, which are the favorite food of the Turks. Koçebasi, inside the complex Queen, one of the hot spots in Istanbul with wonderful views of the Bosphorus, is a good place to try them, better at sunset to see how the city lights up. And on the way, a stop in the neighborhood of Ortaköy to savor the famous Stuffed potatoes (swing) and fried mussels, two street food specialties.

A mobile juice and fruit stand in Istanbul © Corbis

In the ancient city, near Hagia Sophia, the famous are sold koftecisi, elongated beef meatballs, which are prepared on the grill and sold in sandwich To go eating in the street. Going down the streets of Sirkeci, next to the station where the Orient Express arrived, there are tourist restaurants. At the entrance, women prepare gözleme, the traditional pita breads (unleavened) that are filled and baked or baked on a plate, in the style of Cappadocia.

The specialties with hamur (flour dough) are innumerable, from the yufka (the translucent leaves with which the backlava are prepared, the best are those of Karakoy Gulluoglu until the burek(empanadas of different styles and sizes). To understand the differences and learn the names, you almost need a dictionary, the one I have begun to do with Nazim, my guide after kicking the city together and eating nonstop.

In the Spice Bazaar, let yourself be coaxed, surrender to bargaining and buy the famous rahat lokum or Turkish delicacies, jelly beans with candy texture to which pistachios are added (or other nuts) and aromas (rose, orange blossom, lemon, raspberry). My favorites, those of granda and pistachio from Çankiri Kutu (Position 23 of the Spice Bazaar). In Nar, One of the best restaurants of Ottoman cuisine has a workshop where they explain how these ancient sweets are prepared.

Next to the bridge, in the area of Eminönü, the barges offer tasty grilled mackerel snacks, that the locals accompany drinking tursun, brine and pickles mixture. When passing through the terraces of the meyhanes (taverns) that scallop the banks the fried anchovy and squid tuffles assail us, smells of Mediterranean soul that are familiar to us. The best place to eat them is the restaurant Grifin, in Karakoy. It is a kind of speakaesy on the shore of the Golden Horn with incomparable views. In addition, among its meze has delicious fish croquettes and very subtle and particularburek (dumplings) that are steamed and then they go through the iron, in the style of gyozasJapanese To try the best meze in the city you have to cross to the Asian side and reach Ciya But that will be in the next post ...

Street food stalls © Corbis

This article was published in May 2013. Updated in 2017.

Video: Istanbul - Where to Eat and Buy Food (April 2020).

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