Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Touring Turkey - An Introduction to Turkish Street Food

Food on the go. Food on the street. Either way, I like street food. I haven't had a dirty water hot dog in awhile (That's what we call them often in NYC), but I can appreciate different kinds of portable snacks. Turkey has quite a few street food items that I had not seen or tasted before.
Let me show you some of the more common street food that we encountered in Turkey.

1. Take that Pom!

I love the pomegranate drink, Pom, but it's way too expensive. Pomegranates are really healthy for you, but it's like 5 bucks for a small container of Pom. Not in Turkey. You see lots of men selling (yes, men. I didn't see women salesmen at all. Women were also scarce as wait staff in restaurants. We only had two waitresses the entire 8 days) freshly squeezed orange juice, pomegranate or other juices on the street and near major tourist sights.

When I finally got around to getting some pomegranate juice, we were right in front of the exit to the Ephesus ruins (more on there later), and so I knew we were going to get taken for our money just a little. Either way, the money helps a local entrepreneur, right?

I liked watching the juice being made in front of me. It's old school but effective.

Here's the result: a cup of fresh pomegranate juice. Yes, it does taste better than Pom. Waaay better.

2. What kind of nut is this?

I saw these nut vendors everywhere. Turks were gobbling up their wares all along the major streets of Sultanahmet and Beyoglu in Istanbul.

First, you pick the bag size that you want, and the vendor weighs it. Although I don't know if it really matters in the price calculation. I think we paid a little too much. Yep, I'm a little cynical.

Here are the nuts!

Nut close-up

I wasn't exactly sure what kind of nut this is. All I remember is that it had a thick, meaty texture. Maybe it's not a nut at all? Any guesses about what kind of nut this is? I'm dying to know and feel embarrassed that I don't know (and didn't ask the vendor..DOH!). Some salt on the nuts would have been good too. :)

3. Doner Kebap

This may seem pretty familiar to many of you as it resembles a gyro, but doner kebap is essentially a quick snack made with grilled lamb in lavash bread (Doner means lamb) although there is the option of chicken. Specifically in Istanbul, Kasarli durum doner (I wish I had a Turkish keyboard, so that I can type all of the umlaut and pretty Turkish squiggles under consonants) is lamb with grated cheese on lavash bread and then put on a press to melt the cheese. Husband J and I had a variant of this.

Meat on a spit! Lamb on the left and chicken on the right

I'm going to call the chef here Mr. Doner. In order to prepare our doner kebap, he first must cut off some meat from the rotating spit. By the way, I know this place isn't outside on the street, but you can get doner kebap to go, so I am just going to put it in the street food category.

Mr. Doner then adds fixins like lettuce, red cabbage and french fries (fried potatoes/chips or whatever you'd like to call them).

Mr. Doner puts the doner stuffed lavash under a press (I guess to warm it up? We had no cheese to melt on ours).

After the doner kebap has finished its time under the press, it is wrapped and ready for you to tote it around town.
Inside of the doner kebap

So there you have it. A little primer on some of the foods you'll encounter walking around Istanbul or other parts of Turkey.

Which one of these would you try? Do you have a favorite street food item?


Anonymous said...

The nuts you ate are chestnuts... Love them

melinda said...

MMMmmmmm Chestnuts! And I love kebab too. This makes me sooooo hungry!

BigAppleNosh said...

Yep, chestnuts!

Hannah {Culture Connoisseur} said...

Love this! I actually just posted a few days about about a turkish festival we had here in our area last weekend! The smell of doner kebab is still fresh in my mind. YUM!

hiptraveler said...

nice post. definitely brings back memories of enjoying tasty street food in Turkey. I had a particular affinity for doner kebabs & baklava.

BTW, the nuts you ate in Istanbul where roasted chestnuts... similar to the ones sold on the streets in NYC at Christmas time.




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