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After a long financially induced hiatus from international travel, my best travel and life partner, Jim, and I decided we had enough points saved up to afford a vacation. We weren’t sure where to go and happened to be out to dinner with friends. They had just returned from Istanbul and couldn’t speak more highly of their experience. Jim and I had thought we’d look for somewhere in South America, but our friends changed our minds when they told us how cheap the round-trip air fare was.
As we were casting about for ways to fill our tourist days, I came upon a website called Istanbul Eats. They offered all day walking tours that focused on tasting different elements of Turkish cuisine. It was about six hours long with more than a dozen tasting spots. After meeting up with our guide and introductions all-around of about a half dozen English-speaking foodies, we set off towards this breakfast cart of simit, a bagel-like bread perfect for a weekday breakfast on the go.
Turkish cuisine is very local and very fresh. So, what to do with the summer bumper crops? Well, pickling is one age old method. These shops only open after the growing season is over (because who wants pickles when there’s fresh produce?). We visited in November, so they were open, and we were able to try an astounding array of pickled items, including fruits. I found them interesting, Jim thought they were just sour. You gotta admit though, either way, this is a beautiful display!
And it wasn’t all food. This is an example of a street art called yarn-bombing, which is typically “perpetrated” without permission by women. I was aware of these phenomena already but had never seen one in person. As I stopped to grab a photo, I got the distinct impression that my group mates thought I was a weirdo! Istanbul is such an old, yet cosmopolitan place. You can see feminist statements like this right alongside mosques and women dressed in everything from mini-skirts to burqas.