February – March 2015: Istanbul
I purposefully waited until today to go to my local weekly market here in Selami Çeşme on the Asian side of Istanbul so that I could see for myself what seasonal changes have occurred since the last time I went.
First of all, yes, there are some positive signs of spring – look, mimosa!
|I liked this display|
|nestling next to the cabbages|
There were huge piles of bakla or broad beans everywhere, true harbingers of spring indeed. There were even some which had been podded for using with enginar/artichokes although it is early for both of these. I asked if the artichokes were from Cyprus which is always early but most of the stallholders replied no, Izmir. Anyway, I bought some! They look delicious, fresh, and meaty, much more attractive than the ones in jars that have been available most of the winter.
I also bought half a kilo of broad beans: they look very young and fresh and will make a change after a steady diet of winter veg.
|as you can see, these guys aren’t camera shy in the slightest|
Other newcomers included a sighting of semizotu or purslane but I (and the woman next to me) refrained from buying it as by rights it is far too early in the season. I associate it with eggplant/patlıcan, red peppers/ kırmızı biber, and courgettes/kabak and their time is not now! My sources tell me that this month is the month for asparagus or kuşkonmaz but I didn’t see any at all.
However you can still see a few pomegranates here and there but they have lost their fabulous vibrancy; quinces, but not nearly as many so if you want to make your last quince dessert/ayva tatlısı, buy them now! Oranges are starting to lose their juiciness. The apples are still looking good: I particularly recommend the Fuji variety (the ones on the right) but I think generally Amasya are the apple of choice here. Granny Smith are too perfect to be true: I had one that got lost in the fridge and it came out weeks later looking as good as the day it went in.
|a nice selection of apples/elma|
What struck me today was not only the abundance but the sheer exuberance of all the greenery: the different lettuces, parsley, nettles, spinach, Swiss Chard, and above all, the mounds of different green peppers. We now have quite a choice compared with days of yore when it was either tatlı/sweet, or acı/hot. Life was simpler then. You could tell them apart by their colour and shape as the tatlı were light green and bigger, while the acı were slim and a dangerous-looking dark green.
|a huge pile of ‘garden’ sweet peppers although to me they look like the old-fashioned acı|
Turks eat them for breakfast! I like them too but in modest amounts. They go well with the sliced tomatoes and cucumbers that distinguish a Turkish kahvaltı. However, the tomatoes are still not in season although I do buy the very small ones as at least they have taste. Have you noticed how quickly the little cucumbers go off? They’re delicious but I only buy half a kilo at a time.
Right now prices are reflecting the change in season: we are inbetween right now. Keep your eyes open for signs saying Yeni Mahsul/New Crop. Or conversely, Son … /Last… Those celery roots, cabbages and cauliflowers will eventually disappear, leeks too..
|Son Hafta/Last Week for ‘boiling’ chestnuts proclaim the signs|