Eating My Way Through Istanbul

Ruth Marie Landry
December 10, 2015

There is so much to say about Istanbul, so much I loved, and so much that changed from day to day. The only thing that stayed the same was my constant state of bloatness from eating anything that I found in front of me. Here is a shortlist of my favorites. It is by no means comprehensive.

1. Turkish delight

You will be able to find Turkish delight on seemingly every corner. In the Spice Bazaar, store owners would call to us, asking the “Spice Girls” to come into their shop, or calling us by other celebrity’s names. My favorite was “We have everything in this store except customers!” although we rarely heard that. Every store seemed to have Turkish delight. My favorite was the rose flavor, but honestly every single one of them was incredibly good.

2. Lokma

These are like little donuts in a honey sauce with cinnamon. They’re sold by street vendors and I think I cried a little the first time I ate them. They are very light and so cheap.

3. Baklava

I mean, obviously. But to be honest, baklava is a little too rich for me. I can eat maybe one before I’m too full to continue. Nonetheless, many times on the trip I managed to.

4. Roasted Chestnuts

I had never had these before, and my idea of what they were was totally wrong. I thought they would be crispy but they are very soft. They aren’t my favorite, and when I bought them a second time I regretted it, because I wanted more room in my stomach for other treats. 

5. Street Juice

Fresh squeezed pomegranate and orange juice. The look like beautiful gems lined up on the streets. I probably drank more pomegranate juice than water on this trip.

6. Kofta

These are Turkish meatballs. They come with spices and some sort of spicy sauce that I will try to find in Baltimore as soon as I get back to Hopkins. I got these an embarrassing amount of times and I have absolutely no regrets about that. 

7. Salep

Apparently this drink is made of orchard roots. A friend on my program described the taste as “oatmeal without oats.” To me it sort of tasted like a liquid churro. Basically, it is an oddly think, milky drink with cinnamon. It’s served warm. I tried this delicious drink for the first time at the Hagia Sophia.

8. Turkish coffee

If I'm being honest, Turkish coffee isn’t too great. It is rather bitter and about half of any mug is just grinds. That being said, I don't really like coffee anyway--it makes me too jittery. At the end you can read your fortune though, which is pretty fun. None of us were particularly good at fortune telling, but the owner of a pillow shop once sat down with us and saw in Maya's coffee grinds that she was in the midst of emotional turmoil. She didn't seem to think this was accurate.

9. Cay

Maybe I’m biased because I love tea, but Turkish tea is incredible. A lot of restaurants will give you free tea at the end of your meal. With a little bit of sugar, it is always welcome. Definitely try rose hip tea too! My favorite evening in Istanbul was spent drinking tea and watching the sun set over the Bosphorus, Hagia Sophia and Blue Mosque on a roof top cafe.

I could write this list for forever, but honestly everything tastes good and you should just enjoy all. I think I might have eatten more in Istanbul than I have eatten in the rest of the semester. 

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Ruth Marie Landry

<p>Ruth Marie Landry is a junior majoring in the Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. On campus, she works in the library and as a tutor for high school students. She is also a DJ for WJHU (Johns Hopkins&#39; only student radio station) and the co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of Vector Magazine, an online literary magazine. While growing up in New Orleans, she developed a love for spicy food, dancing to live music, and long, poorly planned road trips. Ruth enjoys big cities, Sphynx cats and Brutalist architecture.</p>

2015 Fall
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Johns Hopkins University
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