Springtime brings with it a plethora of new fruits and vegetables that make but a brief appearance in Istanbul's markets. Writing for CulinaryBackstreets.com, writer Roxanne Darrow takes a look at the spring bounty in the city's bazaars, from the more familiar tart green plums, used in stews or eaten straight, to some less known wild greens that are foraged by market vendors this time of year.
From Darrow's piece:
Spring arrives at the markets in Istanbul with a great deal of color and fanfare. Vendors arrange peas in perfect diagonal rows, displaying their goods to lure you into a multi-kilo purchase. Men furiously carve out artichoke hearts and toss them into lemon-water filled bags, step around massive piles of trimmings and hand you what feels like a new goldfish purchase. Fava beans are ubiquitous in their fuzzy pods, although less appealing because of all the prep work that comes with them. Best to enjoy fava beans in a restaurant, in zeytinyağlı (with olive oil) and yogurt or our favorite, a garlicky mash like the chefs make at Müzedechanga in the Sabancı Museum.
Artichokes, fava beans and peas are not the only superstars of spring produce in İstanbul’s markets – the first fruits of the year are here too. While shopping at the expansive Kadiköy market on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, we saw teens staining their fingers purple with mulberries. We hope each was careful to sift through the “Armani” underwear stands with his clean hand. Kids munched on small tart-sweet green plums as their moms shopped for pajamas. Ripe, dark-orange loquats and lusty wild strawberries gleamed among the sea of tender spring greens. Sold and sold.
These are all expected spring treats, but what about the underdogs?
At the İnebolu Pazarı, vendors laid out stacks of intriguing greens on large round metal dishes. At first glance, they seemed like a collection of weeds. These were not hybridized specimens; they were not human-bred to be shelf-stable or easy to prepare. These were wild foraged spring shoots and leaves from the Black Sea coast. We asked the vendors how best to prepare each curious plant and every time we were inevitably told to cook X bundle “like spinach.” Maybe it would take a class from Chef Musa Dağdeviren at his famous Çiya restaurant to learn how to coax greatness from these wild ingredients.
The full article can be found here. Those in Istanbul interested in cooking up some spring greens themselves might want to visit the Inebolu Pazari in the Kasimpasa neighborhood, a funky little Sunday-only open-air market that specializes in products from Turkey's Black Sea region and that always has some hard-to-find products for sale.