In an early post I mentioned the bazaar- the labyrinth of twisted, narrow streets lined with small shops selling everything from fish to antique furniture. One of the mainstays of the bazaar is the produce section, featuring an array of fresh fruits and vegetables piled high to catch passing eyes.
Fruits and vegetables are taken very seriously in Turkey. They’re a major component of the Turkish diet, to the degree where most dishes are primarily composed of them. Thanks to the country’s warm climate, many are grown fresh in the countryside and transported quickly to the city streets for selling. Because of this localized process, produce is cheap and largely grown with limited pesticides or industrial modification. It also allows the tiny stalls to carry the season’s crops weeks before it hits the supermarkets.
However, the hallmark of produce here is quality. It might not look perfectly round, or even, and it might have a few brown spots, but it’s guaranteed to taste good. Turkish produce sections mostly carry what’s in-season, meaning things like apples and oranges can be found pretty much year-round, but strawberries only appeared last week, while tangerines have vanished. You also get to pick out the specific pieces of fruit you want to take home, which are then weighed and priced accordingly. There’s none of the “examine the box” routine to see what the bottom looks like.
In Ortaköy, Wednesdays are the best days to shop for produce, because a local market gets set up underneath the bridge and the freshest (and cheapest) produce is brought in by vendors. However, the five or six permanent vendors along our street aren’t a bad second choice, and it’s very easy to grab an apple on the way to class if you’re hungry. It’s a steady and healthy food supply that I miss when I travel, because getting your hands on fruit and vegetables in a foreign country can be difficult if you don’t speak the language.