I love these tiny Black Sea fish.
Peppers are everywhere in Turkish cuisine; roasted peppers garnish just about every kebab or kofte plate you'll be served, for instance. The sign is an indication as to how spicy they are. (These, çok çok tatli, are "very, very sweet."
One of the few things at the market I'd just never seen before. They're a small, wrinkly fruit with a tough skin, and a big seed on the inside. But the flesh in the middle is dry and powdery—literally, it crumbles between your fingers, becoming the texture of pollen—with a faint taste that reminded me of dates and anise. "They're often served as bar snacks," said Bozdogan.
"Pestil" is essentially a fruit leather. Grapes, or mulberries or apricots or pomegranates, are pureed and sun-dried, studded with walnuts, pistachios, or almonds. (There's also a form that looks more like a sausage, with nuts in the center encased by fruit puree.)
These huge, light-exteriored pumpkins are known as "honey pumpkins" (bal = honey, kabağı = squash.) They'e pretty much only used for sweets—roasted in syrup, say.
A green durum wheat often made into a pilaf, though its taste is so intense it's generally cut with equal parts regular bulghur wheat.
Just about everything you'll see at the market is domestic—even bananas, which are grown in warmer regions of the country.
Some of the sweeter grapes I've ever had.
They're everywhere, they're cheap, they're so delicious.
Sea beans, samphire
Often served boiled and simply dressed with garlic, lemon, and olive oil.
The popular drink Şalgam is made from these guys—they're fermented with wheat and sugar, then juiced and spiced. A popular accompaniment to kebabs.
Another familiar popular vegetable.
And the leeks were massive, too...
So big you'd have to carry a bunch over your shoulder.
So many stores just sell one thing, so why are pastry and eggs? "They're all used to make borek," Bozdogan told us.
We saw chestnuts sold in 15 different barrels, with many of them priced differently. Why? When the nut is removed from its hairy burr...
... it's either removed by hand and polished (giving you the shiny ones on the left) or by machine, which leaves them dustier (right). They're priced according to size, too; bigger ones are more valuable.
Every market has one.
Other familiar vegetables are also served differently. The root end of these spinach bunches, for instance, can be braised and served as a vegetable dish.
Horse mackerel, very popular in Istanbul. "They're so popular," Bozdogan told us, "that Mavi, the jeans company, has a T-shirt with this fish on it."
Fresh white cheeses
Unaged cheeses are served everywhere, whether for breakfast, stuffed into borek or pide, garnishing salads, or any number of other ways.