July 16, 2017

Istanbul. June, 2007

I love to go to markets in every place I visit. Yes, it’s frustrating not to always have a kitchen at my disposal so that I can prepare all the beautiful ingredients on display. But most times the visual assortment is so dazzling that I’m still satisfied. And the more “foreign” the country and the cuisine, the more interesting it proves to be. Not long ago, when my friend Sandra mentioned that she was thinking of making a recently found recipe for rose petal jam, I was reminded of this small market in Istanbul’s Beyoğlu neighborhood on a sunny Sunday morning in early June. The first time I’d seen rose petals sold by the kilo in any market anywhere. Beautiful and surprising and shown off in a box draped with grape leaves. Also for sale elsewhere throughout the same market, purslane, the “weed” that, as I write this, is taking over the gardens of New England, riding on the heels of our winter/spring heavy rainfall. A few snips of it in a salad add a nice tart element, one reportedly rich in antioxidants or omegas or whatever the current health interest is. At a dinner with friends after weeding kilos of purslane from my backyard last week, I smiled when I saw it as an ingredient of the delicious Pea Green Salad at Bergamot, the justifiably popular if somewhat pricey restaurant near my home just outside Boston.

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