Sunday, April 4, 2010

Turkish Food and Farmer's Markets

It was absolutely wonderful to discover the huge quantity of fresh fruits and vegetable available in Turkey. The farmer's markets were wonderful AND held twice a week within walking distance of Patrick's house - heavenly. They even have some farmers producing organic produce. The markets were huge - almost twice the size of the one in Santa Barbara. You would not believe the olives that were available there. I never knew there were so many different kinds! I'm not a fan of regular black olives but I must admit I like some of the seasonings that they add to their olives.
The market was totally packed - and everybody walked to get to it. Izmir, with its well developed bus system, is a walking town. People use the bus to get everywhere, hence there are lots of walkers everywhere. Not only that, Patrick knows everyone!!! It's amazing how many times we stopped to talk to someone he knew or someone who knew someone he knew. He's been busy developing lots of connections.
We enjoyed the fruits of our journey for breakfast - the "typical" breakfast includes olives (of course), white cheese, frequently feta, fresh bread, cucumbers, tomatoes, cream curd with a tad of honey and walnuts as well as a couple of types of jams.
The biggest disconnect of the whole things are the meals in restaurants. When I saw all the fresh produce, I anticipated lots of veggie options and cooked in the homes, there are but..if you go out, at least to the little "fast food" places, that's not so. The breakfasts there have lots of sweet pastries or potato, cheese, or meat filled flaky pastries, Borek, - good but oh my goodness you can get full. Most menus are very heavy with meat - lots of lamb to be found there. There are tons of different pastry dishes, primarily stuffed with meats. There's also the traditional kebobs, that can be found everywhere. Dolmas are popular, stuffed grape leaves. Sometimes they are stuffed with rice, other times with meat. Good thing I had my tasters with me. They do have quite a few soups and lentil soup is quite popular - and generally made without meat. Thank goodness Patrick could speak Turkish to ask!! They do have quite a few great salads and they're always so tasty - the tomatoes even taste like tomatoes!
Ah...and then there are the sweets. The Turkish people love their sweets and oh lala are there ever a ton of different ones to try! Even I, with my usual quest for sweets, found it to be too much. However, they are delicious - the baklavah was absolutely melting and the halvah was addicting. I need to stay clear away from those!

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