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indulgence in photos

Given the central role food plays in Thanksgiving celebrations, Istanbul seemed like an appropriate place to spend the holiday. As we had already visited most of the must-see sights on our previous trip, it was the city’s many culinary treats that made us look forward to this trip the most. A dizzying assortment of delicious meze, mounds of baklava, fresh pomegranates even in the dead of winter — a trip to Turkey is sure to delight all of the senses, and one especially.

tea drinker

We arrived late on a rainy afternoon, dropped our bags at the hotel, and headed out into the wet, bustling streets. Our destination: the spice bazaar.

spices

We wound up revisiting the spice bazaar several times throughout our stay. While S replenished her spice collection, D was mostly excited about the pickle stall. He remembered having the most delicious pickled garlic on our last trip, and was happy to find the same vendor plying his various pickled wares in the same corner of the market several years later.

dried fruit

We also picked up quite an assortment of dried fruit — dates, figs, apricots. Each little store has a vacuum-seal machine, so after having our fill during the visit we also brought some goodies home.

lokum shop at the spice bazaar2

We are not big lokum eaters, but even if one skips the omnipresent Turkish delight there are many other delightful sweets to sample. Baklava tops our list. In fact, although we knew we’d find it at the spice bazaar, we broke down and bought some at the first store we passed on the way there.

baklava and tea

Being big tea drinkers ourselves, we have a huge appreciation for a culture that venerates tea as much as Turkey does. Of course, Turkish coffee is also legendary, but that is one pastime we do not indulge.

pomegranate juicer

Fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice — the perfect purchase to make with those spare 1-lira coins.

Turkish restaurant

There is a whole street with these restaurants leading up to Aya Sofia and the Blue Mosque. Of course, being located in the most visited part of Istanbul, these restaurants cater almost exclusively to tourists, eschewing food quality in favor of over-the-top decor. We chose to eat elsewhere, but stopped in to have some overpriced tea so that Munchkin could bounce around on the pillow cushions and carpeted floor.

at the table

restaurant boats

Other restaurants take a more minimalist approach. There are a handful of these restaurant boats moored in the waters of the Golden Horn.

nighttime fish vendor

The Galata Bridge, which spans the Golden Horn, is one of the most happening places in Istanbul. Fishermen stand shoulder to shoulder atop the bridge late into the night, while the bridge’s lower level is packed with seafood restaurants. We bought a couple of fish sandwiches from this guy early in the morning and were not surprised to see him busy still filling orders well after nightfall.

corn and chestnut seller

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