Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I used to stuff my suitcases with all kinds of pork and foreign cheeses whenever we traveled and returned to Istanbul.

Funny enough, I now live in the land of pork in Poland. I swear there are more kinds of pork products here than I have ever seen in life including bacon flavored potato chips!

Although I have ready access to all the pork I could ever want, there are many things I still miss from my life in Turkey. Two weeks ago, when I returned to Istanbul for a one-week visit, I came prepared with a long shopping list.
Here's an overview photo of all the things I brought back from Turkey to Poland.
On day one, I visited Bilge, my favorite spice girl at Ucuzcular in the MısırÇarşısı (Spice Bazaar). I bought almond flour, ground cinnamon and cumin, dried thyme, pomegranate lokum (Turkish delight), 10 vanilla beans, Turkish pistachios and nar ekşisi (sour pomegranate sauce). I still have many unopen Turkish spices from our recent move. Soon, I’ll make my own vanilla extract using Polish vodka. I’m sure I could find some of the other items here in Warsaw, but it wouldn’t be quite the same.
Photo of Bilge and me in her shop courtesy of Bilge. Thank you!
On my second day in Istanbul, I visited the 4Levent pazar and bought three inexpensive refills for my nazar incense diffuser. One stall sells the freshest scents such as lilyum (lily), beyaz yasemin (white jasmine) and deniz ferahlığı (sea breeze) from a company called Wickerist. Again, I easily could find incenses elsewhere, but I really like these.

At the Grand Bazaar, I only had a small list that included ceramic trivets and small serving bowls. Well, as you know I also splurged on a Kurdish-made kilim I mentioned on this post: WhyI still Love Istanbul & You Should Too. On my way out, I noticed one of my regular stall holders had started selling the cutest ikat-patterned slippers; and since I actually found a pair in my gigantic size, I had to buy them for only 60 tl.
Here are a couple other odd items from Turkey I brought to Poland:
  • A box of Turkish çayfor those days when I don’t want to make a whole pot of tea for myself.
  • Handwoven Turkish hand towels from Jennifer’s Hamambecause I had to get colors to match my new bathrooms at our apartment.
  • 3 sheets of yufka – because I miss eating Turkish börek and want to make my own.
  • Biber salsacı – I love using this Turkish pepper paste to coat vegetables with and roast them as Ozlem of Ozlem’s Turkish Table taught me in our cooking classes together.
  • Üzüm Pekmezi – I used to use this grape molasses to make my own brown sugar for baking. However, üzüm pekmezi is often mixed with tahini and served as part of a traditional Turkish breakfast too. Please visit Kerry over at Earth Laughs in Flowers for her article about Üzüm Pekmezi.

  • Turkish olive oil soaps – I love this kind of soap! What more can I say!
And if I could pack my friends from Istanbul into my suitcase too I would.

Now, it’s your turn: What Turkish items do you bring back to your home country? Or what odd things do you pack in your suitcase to bring back home? 

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sinemk said...

From London to Istanbul I bring back:

Thai green curry paste, Pork of any kind, Maryland double choc Biscuits, and PG Tips tea (as I hate Turkish tea).

From Istanbul to London I take;
Tomato paste (fresh home made in the village), anything my mother wants, anything fresh from the village and myself.

Joy said...

@Sinemk, That's a great list! I also used to bring back curry pastes and kaffir lime to Istanbul bc they didn't seem to exist! :-) Happy to hear I'm not the only one with a pork obsession. For my Turkish friends in Istanbul, I brought them Polish pork and vodka gifts.

Julia said...

you had a good shopping spree. :)If we went back to the UK, I'd probably take some spices back with us, too...except we've not been back in an age so nothing to take. :) We don't miss any UK food really.

Moe said...

Cute shoes! I'm going back to the states tomorrow and am also bring tea from Ucuzlar! Also some organic cotton stuffed toys from Nahil for friends with babies, olive oil for my parents and salted dried chick peas for my friends. I usually bring spices as well, but my parents were just here and bought the place out!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

haha...being an ex-pat is turning you into a good smuggler!

Joy said...

@Julia, yes indeed! The only hardcore American things I miss are burgers and Dr. Pepper, but Warsaw seems to have both of those covered for me. :-)

@Moe, thanks! I love Bilge's mix of different teas. Her vanilla tea works great to make custards and ice creams. Great that you get your parents to visit!

@Joyce, Yes, I do like "smuggling" things as much as I can! ;-)

Dalene said...

Ack! This just made me miss Turkey!

Sue Narayan said...

Great slippers, Joy! I'll have to look for some when I go in October. I'm going to bring back some Iranian saffron, some Cini cookies (because they're cute) and a framed picture from Omer Gunce's shop in the Grand Bazaar. Maybe some lokum as well; I love the kavrulmus kind.

Joy said...

@Darlene, I know what you mean! But surprisingly after my recent trip, I feel better about living here in Warsaw. Odd maybe? :-) My friends in Istanbul are only a short plane ride away.

@Sue, that's a great list! I'm begging hubby to let me return in October as well. What dates will you be there?

thenotoriousmeg said...

Love this post! On our last visit (and first trip back after moving home), I got a lot of instant coffee (yes, really), sahlep, and chocolates from Kahve Dunyasi, glasses and mugs from Pasabahche, and strangely, "balik" crackers (aka Goldfish) for the baby. I miss it so!

Joy said...

@Meg, Thanks dear! Guess we all have different things that we miss from Turkey! Luckily, if we go back for the holidays this year to the US, I don't think there's really much I need to bring back now except for cookbooks, clothes and shoes! Warsaw has quite the international foodie scene and now I have all my Turkish goodies too! :-)

Anonymous said...


Yesterday I discovered this blog of yours and I liked it very much! I'm a Turkish woman, so your posts related to Turkey take my attention a little more than your other posts. So, at first I'll read the "Turkish joys" and then read the others. :) Reading this post of yours I found myself thinking what I'd have brought home from TR if I lived abroad. I would definitely bring green apple tea I buy from Kapalı Çarşı. I'd bring "Güllaç yufkası" so I could make my Güllaç whenever I wanted to. Then "nar ekşisi" and of course, Turkish coffee. Other than these I'd bring some books in the Turkish language (In Germany I saw a book by Ahmet Ümit for 30 Euro! It's insane!) and some CDs of Turkish bands/singers.


Joy said...

@Müge, çok teşekkürler! Our Turkish friends find it amusing what I "smuggle" back to our US friends and to our new home in Poland! :-) Your items also are good choices! I recently discovered a Turkish kebab restaurant with a small grocery store here. So now I can easily buy nar ekşisi and biber salsacı right here in Warsaw!

Hope you enjoy reading my "Turkish Joys!"