Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Turkish Delights.

While editing some photos recently I came across a stash of pictures that I'd taken in Istanbul, but had never paid much attention to. Scanning over them, I was reminded of what an amazing city Istanbul is for street-food; in particular, how on crowded streets sweets and desserts seemed to be served out of every window, and sold from stands on every corner.
Walking around Taksim Square I saw a number of people eating tulumba tatlisi, but was too nervous to attempt buying one. When I finally made an attempt to buy one on my third day in Istanbul, I nervously held out some change to the seller, giving him my best 'I have no idea what I'm doing' expression and shrug, to indicate the I didn't know how much to pay. He took some coins, and after studying my face, took some more change from my hand. I realized I was probably being ripped off, but the amount was negligible, and well worth the treat: seeing the browned ridges of the fried dough I had been expecting something like a churro, but found that instead of a dry cinnamon dusting, tulumba tatlisi is infused with a sweet honey like syrup. I ordered another on my last day in Istanbul, this time attempting to look disintererested as I handed the vendor a smaller amount of change than I had given the first vendor. He handed me the tulumba, along with a handful of small change. Pausing in front of a cluster of aqua colored phonebooths, I managed to take a photo of it to commemorate my more successful purchase.
The area around Taksim became particularly beautiful at night; in part because the rubble lined alleys and bland concrete buildings faded into darkness, and in part because of the glowing lights of shops and streetfront restaurants. Ordinary confections like cotton-candy and lollipops seemed to stand out luridly, particularly when piled in heaps or gathered in generous bundles.
This principal seemed to have been taken to an extreme by one vendor I saw at the end of Istaklal Cadessi. He sat within a tiny space between two larger stores, almost hidden by the hundreds of foil-wrapped bars of chocolate stacked around him. He was taking a drag from a cigarette when I passed him, the smoke curling around his head. I liked the look, and asked to take his photo. He sat up in his seat, attempted a dashing smile, and, unfortunately, put his cigarette away.

1 comment:

kbd said...

Hmm, I had a bit of a better experience... I went into a store to buy lollipops and luckily the guy was nice enough to help me with my money :) But the street food was great! (And I had a host family to help me get the money right! The joys of being an exchange student).