April-May 2015: Istanbul
The markets are delivering on their early promise!
This is what we have been waiting for: the glorious sight of huge mounds of beautiful spring produce! Finally we can say that winter has been banished and we are officially into the new season.
|I often shop at this particular stall|
It all looks so tempting after a steady diet of the usual winter fare: celeriac, leeks, carrots and cabbage. You can still find those if you look but they have been eclipsed.
|I was surprised to see these pinky red barbunya or borlotti beans: it’s early for these and the price reflects this. Same
for the green peppers below.
The enginar or artichokes are well and truly here: look out for the Bayrampaşa ones as they are very good. Look carefully when you are buying your artichoke hearts as there is a definite difference in what’s on sale out there. They should be a luscious creamy colour with no blemishes, and I like them plump as opposed to thin. The price varies between 2-3 lira each. The accompanying broad beans are still here which is great.
Purslane/semizotu has made a comeback: the larger fleshy leaves are the cultivated variety while the smaller ones are the regular garden sort. I love both! Try to eat it the same day, or at the very least, the next day, because after that, it wilts and is no good for salads.
Irresistible peas in their pods were everywhere! I rashly bought 2 kilos and spent the afternoon podding them and freezing in little bags.
|they were so fresh: after shelling, you could pop them straight in your mouth.
Here the sign says’ New crop from Yalova. Very tasty!’
The other stunning sight was the strawberries. You can easily tell the tarla or field ones compared with the cultivated ones: they are smaller and have that delicious fresh fragrance that reminds me of those Pick-your-own that we loved back in England in those childhood summers. I never buy those artificially grown big ones, do you? They are tasteless in comparison with the new crop.
|‘field’ strawberries from Aydın (south of Izmir)|
|two spring delicacies|
I’ve already mentioned in a previous post the real harbingers of Turkish spring: the sour little green plums which come in two varieties, can/pron: jun and papaz; çağla, the unripe fuzzy almonds; and this year for the first time, the unripe apricots. I have yet to meet a foreigner who likes any of these!
|note how the price of avocados has gone up|
Oh yes, it’s also the time for yeni dünya, the Japanese medlar or loquat. These always look a bit battered but that’s their look. However, it’s best not to buy too many at one time as they become even more bruised if not eaten more or less straightaway. They really do signal spring though and there is a very special kebab that you can only eat now: we had it the other night at Sahan, a well-known kebapçı on Bağdat Caddesi here on the Asian side of Istanbul – it’s delicious, made as it is with other grilled vegetables and meat, cooked with spices and then rolled into succulent wraps/dürüm. Don’t miss it!
|sometimes known as malta eriği|