Monday, December 3, 2012

Nearly every neighborhood in Istanbul seems to have a weekly outdoor pazar.

On Saturdays, we normally trek to the pazar in Beşiktaş because that’s the one closest to our apartment. Plus, I can use my husband as my personal packing mule to haul all our produce purchases. All those kilos of fruit and veggies add up quickly!

But when our grandparents visited Istanbul, I took them on a private tour which took us through the older neighborhoods of Balat and Fener, located along the Golden Horn, and included a visit to the Balat Salı Pazarı (Tuesday Pazar). Our tour guide, Salih, owner of My Local Guide Istanbul, was an engaging, interesting and handsome Turkish man. (Even grandma said so.)
Grandpa is wearing shorts and standing next to our tour guide, Salih, at the Balat pazar.
I love visiting the pazars in Istanbul and even when we’ve run into one on our travels around Turkey. Each one is unique. The pazars often have the same kind of produce, but the people, sights and sounds are still different.

For example, at the Balat pazar, I noticed there were a lot more traditional Turkish women, with long trench coats and head scarves, here than what I usually see in Beşiktaş. Also, the prices were a bit cheaper. For instance, tomatoes were only .75 kuruş or 1 TL/kilo compared to the 1.50 tl I normally pay.
Balat was once a traditional Jewish neighborhood with a small Armenian population as well. In the late 1800s, after a series of bad fires, most of the Jewish people moved to Galata. The neighborhood continued to change over the years and immigrants from the Black Sea region of Turkey moved in attracted by the low rent and job prospects in the area. 

You can still see archictectural evidence of the Jewish and Greek influences in this historical neighborhood in the Fatih district of Istanbul. I love taking photographs of the buildings and the people. (Hopefully, this will be another blog post in the future.)

But for this visit to Balat, I’ll just show you some of the market photos I took that September day with the grandparents. I think it’s always worth exploring your local market to see what treasures you might find.

Here’s a handy guide to other pazars in Istanbul.
In the late summer, the bal kavun is so sweet and delicious. It literally does taste like honey!
This is a real head of cabbage with my hand next to it. It's gigantic!
I'd never seen Turkish alıç before. Does anyone know what it is? It kinda tasted like a tart pear.
Grandma and grandpa enjoying a fresh slice of kavun (melon) at the Balat pazar.
Another melon stall at the Balat pazar. As you can see, each stall is a bit different.

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Mesut said...

A kind of hawtorn I think. Crataegus oxyacantha or Crataegus monogyna.

It is said good for the hearth health.

Julia said...

Love your market pics. They call it mersin here (the little fruits in your photo) and it's myrtle. Tastes like flowers to me. Not a fan. :)

Mesut said...

Alıç/Aluç is different than Mersin. Please check Hawthorn or common hawthorn.

Joy said...

@Mesut, thanks for your feedback! I assumed it would have to be made into a jam/jelly like the kizalik is too.

Info on Hawthorn edible berries from Wikipedia: "The fruit of the hawthorn, called haws, are edible raw but are commonly made into jellies, jams, and syrups, used to make wine, or to add flavour to brandy. Botanically they are pomes, but they look similar to berries."

@Julia, strange, the same name as cranberries then? They call them yaban mersin at the kuruyemis here. Or maybe the name covers several fruits? :)

jaz@octoberfarm said...

hi joy! i loved seeing the market but come on???? no closeups of the tour guide??? hehehe!

Joy said...

@Joyce, LOL! Yes, I'll post a new photo of our tour guide, Salih, soon. ;-)

Anonymous said...

HI Joy
Alic is different from mersin,
you make Alic into a clear strained jam/jelly.
its very delicious and easy to make

Joy said...

@Ishil, thanks so much for the Turkish update on alıç. I enjoy learning as many new things as I can here! I'll keep an eye out for it at the market.