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Istanbul – the food…

This story wouldn’t be done if I didn’t tell you about the food in Istanbul. Just like any modern city, you can get just about anything that your tummy desires. The best part for us as mentioned before is a privilege we don’t even enjoy at home in SA & that was that the food was largely halaal.

There were so many little touches that I loved about the food in Istanbul, like the fact that instead of butter being served with bread, olive oil with a dollop of olive pesto was standard. Restaurants were open till late, in fact we never found one closed or rushing us that they were about to close & quite a few of the fast food outlets were open 24/7!

Here are some of the foods that stood out on our trip….


The very first meal we had within hours of landing in Istanbul was kebab. Yup, this is a country that likes their meat! Think Anat but minus all the salad plus a sprinkle of chips (I literally counted like 3 or 4 chips & had to hold myself back from asking for a few more!). It reminded me of a gatsby (Capetonians will know what I mean!), but was very dry so I added tomato sauce or mayo. The choice of starch is yours – a schawarma, wrap, or bread roll & sometimes it’s served plated with just a bit of salad. Kebab makes for a cheap tasty meal on the go.


Meze is very typical of more formal sit-down Turkish restaurants. It’s a selection of small dishes presented to choose from & share as starters – normally with warm bread. Typically this would include dishes featuring humus, egg-plant, curried fish & olives to name a few. Not my favourite….


The butter fried prawns we shared as a starter was so delicious I wished it was my main meal instead!

Istanbul is lined with speciality seafood restaurants, especially along the Bosphorous Sea where as expected, they’re packed with tourists.  We decided to sit down to a seafood dinner at Sultanahmet Fish House, somewhat off the beaten track, a Lonely Planet recommendation – we weren’t sorry!

Turkish Delight

I have always passionately hated Turkish Delight – & by that I mean the Cadbury’s version I came across as a kid but this trip completely changed my mind! Firstly, who knew there were different types of Turkish Delight from coconut to nougat & my personal favourite, pistachio. It’s also served in most restaurants as part of the dessert menu. Most stores allow you to sample before you buy & you definitely should as there is some really cheap & nasty stuff out there…


Squeezed while you wait…

If I had to choose just one food I loved about Istanbul, it’s undoubtedly the amazing, freshly squeezed juices available everywhere. The most popular is pomegranate which was way too sour for me to stomach so I stuck to orange. You can get freshly squeezed juices at any restaurant for around 10 TL (R50) a glass so I stuck to buying it off the street for 3 TL (R15). I really wanted to buy one of the juice extractors I saw everyone use in Istanbul but it weighed a ton and my husband talked me out of it…

Street food

This was one of my favourites in Istanbul – there’s food available on the go just about everywhere, day & night through informal vendors. And the choices are plenty: roasted nuts, ice-cream (of the best I’ve ever tasted), corn on the cob, bagels & my personal favourite, mussels. The latter was served in the shell, stuffed with spiced rice & a dash of lemon – to die for! I could easily devour 6 to 8 in one sitting!


You can have tea well, anywhere & everywhere 🙂

Tea is a part of life in Istanbul drank by all ages. It’s usually sweetened, without milk (I could never!) & in smaller quantities that we’re used to. I loved seeing people drink tea on the sidewalks any time of the day and in the sweltering heat.

While I can’t say I love all Turkish food, there certainly was enough to choose from. In retrospect I’m glad we did all the walking we did so I could at least burn some of it off!



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