March 1, 2017

Kadiköy, Istanbul. June, 2007

Why does the food in Istanbul taste so very, very good? Hint: fresh local ingredients, seen in all their abundant splendor at outdoor markets like this one. Local, ripe fruit. Honey. Vegetables to please even the pickiest Turkish chef. And greens? At Doğa Balik, a wonderful rooftop fish restaurant that we found in Cihangir (and ate at during a spectacular passing thunderstorm one night), their meze offerings include more than a dozen kinds of greens, prepared to show off the special distinctions of each. Those greens could easily have come from this woman at the Kadiköy market. Growing, gathering, cleaning, packing and transporting them by hand, she comes to the city from her country home twice a week with just about every kind of roughage imaginable, from exotic lettuces to omega-rich purslanes and everything in between. Plus some scallions, some figs, some tiny unripe pears for pickling -- this lady has a devoted following who will only buy their greens from her. Stewed, mixed with yogurt or eaten raw, many of her garden treasures haven’t yet found their way into the American food consciousness. But if history is any indication, they will.

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