Friday, March 21, 2014

Interesting Things in Istanbul PART 3 (Taste Edition)

Fish Sandwiches

Eating a fish sandwich on Galata Bridge was something I read multiple places as something you “must do” in Istanbul.

For like a century, fishermen have been bringing their catches from the Bosphorus and Sea of Marmara to Galata Bridge for sale. They would cook the fish right on their boat, stuff them in half a loaf of bread and sell them for cheap. Balik ekmek! Balik ekmek! They would shout (Fish in bread! Fish in bread!)

Then Turkey aspired to join the EU and these old-fashioned, potentially unsanitary practices were discouraged. Nowadays, the traditional fish sandwich is still being served daily, only in legal boats tied to shore and little restaurants beneath the Bridge.

The traditional drink to enjoy your balik ekmek with is pickle juice, of which I saw many stands selling. It actually looked like sangria but with pickles. Yums!

We found a sit down restaurant below the bridge. We ordered 4 sandwiches and 4 beers. The sandwiches were only 3 dollars, less than the beer! I thought the sandwich was deliciously fishy and fresh. Next time I would love to try one from the traditional boats tied to the docks, as that’s closest to the original as you can get. 

(Yo, yo. If you don't like fish, fishyness, looking at fish, or eating something that was clearly a live fish, avoid this "must see".)

Turkish Delight
It’s a flavored gel consisting largely of chopped pistachios bound by the gel. It’s packaged and eaten in small cubes dusted with powdered sugar. Turkish Delight was everywhere- especially at the Bazaars, where they give you a LOT of samples. I have a love/hate relationship with TD. It’s so delicious and addictive, but then I regret eating it immediately because it actually doesn’t taste THAT good and I also don't think I like pistachios that much. I must have been on the love stage when I bought 2lbs worth of it... I hope Dan likes pistachios. 


Also known as nargile, it is used for smoking flavored tobacco called shisha in which the smoke is passed through a water basin. There are all kinds of hookahs and flavors of tobacco. One night we went to a local spot for smoking the shish. We each ordered some tea and smoked the apple flavor tabacco for about an hour. I’ve done it before so it wasn’t anything groundbreaking for me, but a fun experience.

While hookah origins aren’t based in Turkey, nargile became part of its culture in the 17th century. Then, it was used as a status symbol. Hashtag WeBeHighRollers 

Raki is a national drink of Turkey that is made from grapes and raisins, flavored with anise. Because of the high alcohol and its color change when water is added (which you add to your preference, and turns the drink white and cloudy), Turks call it “lions milk”, as you should be strong as a lion to dare drink it.

And friends, I was. Roar

Raki is usually served with seafood and meze- appetizers/small plates. We had it the first time at a restaurant know for its small plates and the second time for free… to encourage us to stay and keep eating/drinking. I would say it is an acquired taste. If you’re not a fan of licorice you won’t like it. On many occasions I had to finish everyone elses, which you know I probably did without much hesitation.

(FYI- Raki hangovers are misssserable.) 

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