Looking through photographs taken in Istanbul some years ago, I came across some images of the fishermen selling their catch from boats on the Bosphorus and was overwhelmed by feelings of nostalgia. Nostalgia for those simpler days in Turkey when Kemal Ataturk was revered by everyone, the secular state was praised and remarked on with pride by the Turks we met, and the food, hospitality, and people were second to none.
In fact, I wondered as I ate dinner every night, why people raved so much about French cooking. I thought the Turks had them licked.
But, to the sandwich. I’d joined the Istanbul locals as they queued by the Galactica Bridge where a couple of fisherman in a bobbing boat with nothing more than a primus stove, a frying pan, a heap of freshly caught fish, crusty bread, and big, yellow, lemons, provided the best takeaway I’d ever had. I pointed to my choice of fish, it was fried, slapped between two pieces of bread, and a gourmet sandwich worthy of at least one Michelin star was handed up to me as I stood on the bridge.
Impossible to eat elegantly. This sandwich demanded two hands wrapped around it, and with the absence of napkins, the oil did make rather a mess, covering mouth and chin in a scented, herby, grease, that encouraged one to lick fingers clean.
Istanbul is a great place for snacking and the food is fresh, tasty and clean. Apart from the open charcoal grills where succulent marinated meats are singed before your eyes, there are shops selling simple dairy dishes like herb yoghurt with sweet garlic and a very tasty rice pudding. Over 1000 bakeries in the city sell freshly made baklavas, almond cakes and melt in the mouth pastries (it was the Turks who introduced the Austrians to strudel pastry as they hammered on the gates of Vienna in the 17th century).
A short post today, brought about by a bit of time-wasting as I took a stroll down memory lane.