August 30, 2011

Spice Bazaar, Istanbul. June, 2007

Sausages? Candy? Both! Within the vast reaches of Istanbul’s Spice Bazaar just about anything is possible. Beaded and sequined bellydancer costumes hang next to heaping displays of ground peppers and herbs. Local cheeses follow mountains of henna and halvah (one of which is labeled “viagra” for alleged tourist amusement.) But here, fronting almond-stuffed apricots and dates and an assortment of hazelnut and pistachio delights, sits the mysterious Adana Sucuk. Linguistically confusing at first (Adana is a Turkish city famed for its spicy ground-meat kebabs; sucuk means sausage), the offering is actually a popular Turkish sweet. Walnuts (the variety shown here) or pistachios (used for Antep Sucuk) are sewn onto a length of string and then dipped repeatedly into boiled, thickened grape or mulberry juice. As the liquid adheres and solidifies, the treat comes to resemble its namesake sausage. It’s chewy, surprisingly not so sweet and is, as they say, an acquired taste. Still, Turks we know smile from within at the very mention of these “sweet sausages,” so evocative are they of a childhood spent before the onslaught of Western-manufactured brand-name candies from Nestlé.

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