Published on July 28th, 2014 | by Geckos Tales Team
TURKEY’S MOST GLORIOUS STREET FOOD IN PICTURES (AND WORDS)
Turkish kebabs certainly make up the bulk of the countryâs street food contingent, but there are plenty more lesser-known urban delicacies to be sampled between (or during) kebabs.
I know, because when I was in Turkey I ate the place, and myself, to within an inch of our lives. Iâve lost the weight now, but I havenât lost the appetite for Turkish food. In fact, I had a kebab on the first day I returned home from Turkey to Melbourne.
But thatâs enough about kebabs, letâs take a tour of Turkeyâs finest alternative street food offerings. Like corn. I like corn.
Like kebab shops, grilled corn stalls are everywhere in Turkey. Istanbulâs full of âem. There isnât a whole lot to say about the corn, other than the fact that if you are the type of person that likes corn, then this stuff’s for you. The vendors will often have some pre-grilled cobs on display, so make sure you get them to grill a fresh one for you. Theyâll throw on a little salt, and bingo â corn.
These things are also everywhere. You likely wonât go a day without seeing a bloke with a little wheeled cart stacked high with these pretzel-like bread concoctions. Simit are essentially just rings of crusty bread covered in sesame seeds, and they make the perfect snack for when youâre on the move (or sitting still). You can also get them with fillings, such as Nutella. Mmm.
I was looking as these little closed-shell mussels the entire time I was in Istanbul wondering what the deal was. Iâd always been taught that if you cook mussels and the shells donât open, theyâre bad. And you donât want bad mussels, because they play host to the kind of evil that leaves you toilet-ridden for days.
Eventually I asked my Turkish mate Gus, whoâs a chef in Istanbul, what the mussels were about. As it turns out, the mussels are cooked first, then opened and stuffed with aromatic, spicy rice, and then closed for display. Makes sense.
Upon learning this, I proceeded to eat a thousand of them.
If youâre in Istanbul, get down to the KarakĂ¶y or EminĂ¶nĂŒ shoreline (either side of the Galata Bridge) and grab one of these delicious fish rolls. The fish are caught right there, the fish are cooked right there, and the fish are eaten right there â it doesnât get much fresher than that. Or delicious. Donât be tempted to chomp on balÄ±k-ekmek at one of the restaurants under Galata Bridge â youâll pay a higher price for what might be an inferior sandwich. And if thereâs one thing I hate, itâs inferior sandwiches.
You canât move without seeing bĂ¶rek orÂ gĂ¶zleme stands around Turkey and coincidentally, you usually canât move much once youâve taken advantage of aforementioned stands either.
Take any combination of spinach, cheese, minced lamb/beef and potato, wrap some tube-shaped bread around it, cook it, and youâve got yourself a bĂ¶rek. The same ingredients are present in gĂ¶zleme, but the mode of transport (shape of bread) is circular, like a pizza, and folded into delicious slabs, as pictured above.
âTurkish pizzaâ to most tourists. Take one part pizza-esque base, add minced meat, onion and red/green pepper, cook, and eat. Repeat as many times as necessary. The best part about lahmacun (and most other foodstuffs on this list, come to think about it) is that theyâre often insanely cheap â three lira (roughly US$1.50) for a pizza is pretty epic. The one pictured is folded in half – usually they’ll be laid out flat. FYI.
Pide is very much like lahmacun, in that it is basically the Turkish equivalent of a pizza. The main difference is the shape of the bread â which many would describe as âboat-shapedâ. This âboat-shapedâ flat bread (with a Cornish-pasty like crust), is topped with minced meat, onions, veg and spices. It is delicious.
I made it through six different foods before mentioning kebabs again â go me. These are an obvious choice for streetfood, but there are so many different types that it can be hard to know which kebab is best for pounding the pavements, so I’ll tell you: doners (in a pide) and durum (in a wrap). Above is a picture of me devouringÂ the former.
Both contain meat carved off the huge rotating skewers you see everywhere, salad, a few chips and as much chilli sauce as you like. Make sure you ask the doner in a pide/roll, else you might get it on a plate with rice (which is delicious, but not ideal for aforementioned pavement-pounding). Durum comes in a wrap, so youâre all set.
Whet your appetite? You can tuck in to all of the above and more on one of Geckos itineraries in Turkey.