Istanbul: Om nom nom nom

056 Istanbul

What time is tea time?

What time is tea time? All the time!

The Turks dig their tea. Served in tulip shaped glasses, tea is served all day long and available almost anywhere. No, actually I’d say it’s available anywhere, with the locals relying on the tea man to bring it by or because of the fact that even without tea-on-the-move, there is absolutely going to be someone serving nearby.

You don’t have milk, but you’re welcome to plenty of sugar – a questionable addition when you’re downing 836 glasses of tea each day.

This is one custom that takes no time getting used to. In fact, everyone should commit to all day tea breaks and maybe the world would be a happier place.

057.1 Istanbul

Do I look fat in this? Turkey, that is.

Here is my list of what to try in Istanbul:

  • Donor: Donor screams kebab at most people and the Turkish make a mean kebab. But they also use the meat for a whole variety of different sandwiches and wraps that come out equally tasty, even if they’ve only ever heard of three vegetables.
  • Fish sandwich: Your best bet here is to find someone making these fresh, as they’ll taste way better and you get to see the mad deboning skills! This is simply fish, lettuce and onion on a bread roll and it is the best!
  • Sesame roll: This is a bread roll entirely covered in sesame seeds and sold dirt cheap. A quick and filling top up.
  • Pide: The Turkish answer to pizza, Pide is a long and thick piece of bread topped with cheese and a range of toppings, meat and otherwise. baked and served hot, it’s a decent lunch option.
  • Meze: This one is a combination of all sorts of things and can vary, but will include a variety of Turkish dips like hummus and eggplant and be served with pita bread.
  • Testi kebab: Not a kebab like you might think, the testi kebab is a meaty stew that’s made and cooked inside a ceramic pot that is then cracked open at the table and poured onto your place.
  • Lokum: aka Turkish Delight. There’s a lot to love about this stuff, because there are a lot of different types – rosewater, fruity, creamy, nutty, even chocolaty! And what’s better, everyone wants you to try theirs so there’re freebies aplenty!
  • Baklava: Pistachios meets pastry meets syrup in a glorious, glorious way! There are so many places to get good Baklava in Istanbul and it is super delicious.
  • Helva: A sesame sweet that’s found in a few “flavour” varieties but always comes out tasting like, well, sesame. Taste and texture combine for truly unique treat.
  • Turkish ice cream: It’s stretchy, kinda chewy and it doesn’t melt. It’s tastes decent (not the best ice cream, but good), but the real reason to get the stuff is for a performance…

  • Apple tea: A sweet alternative to genuine Turkish tea. This stuff is really like hot apple juice; it’s very sweet and apparently produced predominantly for foreigners.
  • Pomegranate tea: Another sweet tea variety of tea that doesn’t hold a candle to…
  • Fresh pomegranate juice: Squeezed on demand by vendors all around Istanbul. Pomegranate juice is great – vibrant colour, 100 per cent flavour and refreshing. Although it can do weird things to your tongue.
  • Turkish coffee: This particular caffeine intake will put hairs on your chest. It’s poured espresso size but still effectively brewing with the coffee grounds in the cup. Just be careful not to drink it before the coffee has settled and to not go too far down your cup.
  • Salep drink: Try this if you want a typical Turkish drink, but don’t expect to love it (I didn’t). It’s a combo of milk, honey and salep, which is flour made from orchid tubers that thickens the heck out the milk. The result is sweet and gooey; hardly what I call a “drink”.
  • Rose drink: This is effectively rosewater cordial. Floral, but tasty.