Thursday, March 29, 2012


Trying new foods is one of the joys of living and traveling in a foreign country.

I'll try just about anything once. However, I had to pass on the fish eyeballs my husband tried in Little India in Singapore.

I'm also not a fan of Işkembe Çorbası - Turkish tripe soup. Apparently, this traditional soup is good after you've had one too many drinks, but I'll stick to the tantuni vendors off of Istiklal Caddesi.

Last week, I tried boza while exploring the Vefa neighborhood in Istanbul. I'd recently heard more about this strange Turkish drink thanks to Claudia over at A Seasonal Cook in Turkey.

Boza is made from hulled millet that is cooked with water and sugar and then left to cool and ferment. At first, I thought the mixture looked a bit like egg nog, which I love.

The bozacı ladels the boza from a large marble vat into individual glasses. The drink is then dusted with a liberal dose of cinnamon and garnished with dried chickpeas.
This guy loved showing off the boza to us!
I wasn't sure if I would like boza, but I wanted to try it.

Tip: Use a spoon.

Boza is tangy and slightly sweet and has the consistency of applesauce. That's why you need a spoon. The dried chickpeas add an interesting crunch as you "eat" this drink.

Well, I finished about half my glass and left it on the old marble countertop in Vefa Bozacısı.
Boza is an unique Turkish drink!
My verdict: boza is okay, but I'm not sure I'd try it again.

If you are visiting the nearby Süleymaniye Mosque, then you definitely must stop by the famous Vefa Bozacısı, opened since 1876. Vefa, near the Aksaray bus stop, is a quaint, ramshackle of a neighborhood that's worth exploring on its own. I took so many interesting photos that day.

As Claudia says, "Liking (boza) isn't the point." It's about experiencing a Turkish tradition.

And that I enjoyed.

What foreign foods have you tried and not liked?
These two workers at Vefa Bozacısı were kind enough to pose for some more photos.
The Vefa sign on a nearby sports club building.


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8 comments:

Karen said...

I haven't tried Boza yet either. I too was hoping it would be like egg nog, which I also love. Thanks for the description!

Erica (Irene) said...

Haven't tried this BOZA drink yet....but my husband sure loves it. Thanks for the info....maybe I'll try a sip next time I'm there. Great info....and photo's.

Joy said...

@Karen, If you try it, let me know what you think. =) I do like sahlep, but totally different taste.

@Erica (Irene), all Turks seem to like boza! But I guess when you grow up with it, you get accustomed to the taste.

Julia said...

I can't believe we've still never tried boza but I suspect I'll be the same as you - glad I tried it but might not try it again. ;)

Joy said...

@Julia, have you tried the strange fermented carrot drink from Adana region? I don't like that either. But I'll try just about anything once. ;=)

Joann said...

On a trip to Istanbul two years ago (it was in January), we heard the boza man making his rounds at night. Apparently, this is a rare thing now, but something of a winter tradition in the past. My Turkish brother-in-law put his head out the window and called him up so we could have a glass of boza. At first taste I quite liked it, but after several sips I was done, same as you! It seemed a bit cloying after a while. We really wanted to like this, but it does seem to be an acquired taste.

A Seasonal Cook in Turkey said...

Hi Joy! Great place isn't it?? But sad that Vefa itself is now so dilapidated when it apparently was so wonderful.... but it's a good place to take visitors I think!

Joy said...

@Joann, lucky you! I often see the sahlep men making their rounds in the wintertime...and sometimes even hot chocolate. Much better beverage options than the boza. =)

@Claudia, Vefa was great! Glad I got the chance to experience it at least. It is sad to see the crumbling neighborhood of Vefa, but still so much fun to explore.

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