Istanbul Street Food Picnic Tour

Frying the bread-crumbed hamsi, and preparing gözleme

Although I am a long term resident of Istanbul, there is always something to discover about this unique city. Recently, I met up with Canero, of Urban Adventures, and took the Istanbul Street Food Picnic Tour, to discover more about traditional Turkish cuisine.

My guide, Canero

We met at the entrance to the Spice Bazaar in Eminonu, and began our walking tour  through the fascinating back streets behind the bazaar. I asked Canero how he became interested in food, as he seemed very knowledgeable. It appears that his grandmother is a superb cook from Antakya (Antioch), in the Hatay Province of southern Turkey. This area is famous for its delicious food.

Our first stop was to a small outlet specialising in Gozleme and hamsi (anchovies). Gozleme is a popular street food made of layered pastry, and resembles a folded pancake, stuffed with either cheese, spinach, or potato; or a mixture of these. Canero ordered cheese and spinach, which we ate, together with fried hamsi, a specialty of the Black Sea region of Turkey.

I insisted we shared the fried hamsi (anchovy) and gözleme, as I didn't want to 
spoil my appetite for the rest of the tour!

We watched Turkish pide being made. It is baked in an oven, similar to a pizza oven

We stopped for a glass of Ayran, made from yogurt, water and salt.

As we strolled through the crowded little streets, Canero talked about all the little food outlets we passed, and the amazing variety of traditional foods they sold. As he added to our supply of food, he explained that Istanbul has become a magnet for people from every area of Turkey, who brought  with them the culinary delights of their particular areas.

We visited a delicatessen, where Canero bought some pastirma (pastrami) for our picnic

There were stacks of fresh honeycomb, a breakfast staple in Turkey

Canero bought some sweet desserts for me to taste

Finally we entered the spice bazaar, where Canero introduce me to a wonderful emporium, full of Turkish delight, exotic teas, and aromatic spices. We were entertained royally, while I was shown the range of products with an explanation of their provenance.

Some of the delights of the Spice Bazaar

Canero levitating over the shop

Night was beginning to draw in when we bought some chestnuts to complete our meal

Normally, the tour would end with a picnic in Gulhane Park, but this is winter, and a picnic in the park wasn't really feasible. Instead, we took our picnic to the edge of the Golden Horn, where we enjoyed some warming Turkish tea with our delicious selection of typical Turkish eats.

If ever you are in Turkey, I really recommend taking a tour with Canero. You can find him on Facebook.

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