I smiled politely and walked on because what I really had come for was the Turkish Delight.
Turn into the next alley and you find yourself in candy paradise. Ok, I knew that the main ingredients are sugar, starch, rose water and lemon juice which, quite frankly, sounds a bit boring. What you find in the usual shops are powder- sugar covered cubes in pink, green or yellow sold in cellophane wrapped boxes meant to be a 'souvenir' of Turkey.
Turkish Delight comes in an incredible variety of shapes. There are conic towers in vivid reds and greens. Slivers are cut off with a big, sharp knife and proffered to you to taste. And that's the moment when the sugar rush starts. The stuff is sweet, but has a tangy taste too, because fruit like pomegranate, mango and oranges have been added. Nothing here is bland. The green comes from kiwi and pistachio.
Walnuts, hazel nuts and almonds are ever present in Turkish cuisine and they find their way into the varieties of Turkish Delight too.
Next were the dates, filled with walnuts and then my favourite: chocolate delight, stuffed with walnuts and shaped like big sausages. Diagonal slices are cut off and everything is sold by grams. They will do gift boxes on demand, but honestly, having a sweet tooth, I wanted to take things away for myself. The same stall presents a variety of chocolate puddings which are a far cry from any supermarket offering. Melting chocolate in the middle, ground walnuts to give it a bit of a crunch and the whole thing surrounded by a super light dough. When biting into one, I didn't even want to think about the calories contained in even a mouthful of these cakes and neither should you. This is about pure pleasure for the taste buds and to hell with the waistline.
Chocolates and candy are not the only 'delights' offered in the Spice Bazaar. A huge section is dedicated to cheeses and they are equally elaborate and tasty as the sweets.
Goat cheese and sheep cheese make the basis but again it's the addition of nuts, pistachios and pepper corns which give these cheeses their special twist.
After the mêlée of sweet and savory, running up and down the aisles, pushing past locals and tourists and generally taking in the impressions of a busy Turkish bazaar hardly changed since it first opened in the 1700 - except for the clothes -, body and soul need a rest.
No shortage of all kinds of cafes and restaurants, ranging from sit down to simple holes in the wall within and outside the bazaar.
After all that tasting, I didn't need any food but I craved another one of my Turkish favorites: a good Turkish coffee. Outside the bazaar, heading towards the Bosporus, I found a wonderful café. Shrouded in wine leaves, wooden benches covered with plush pillows, silence reigned and invited to rest my tired feet. And I got lucky, because they also made spice flavored Turkish coffee which you don't find everywhere. I chose cinnamon flavour and very little sugar and enjoyed the end of a wonderful Istanbul side trip.
ArticleEzine: Inka Quishotte: Article Ezine:Graham flaherty
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