The pink, salty, acid liquid, which has been used to make Turkey’s famous pickled fruit and vegetables is a favourite drink, and is credited with magical, medicinal properties. It proved to be the only nemesis in a day spent tasting everything from sherbets to sheep heart in Istanbul’s lesser known districts.
Istanbul Eats, a food website, is to Istanbul what Squidbeak is to Yorkshire. Set up by two enterprising friends it has its finger on the pulse of everything foodie, and the culinary walks are its latest offering.
We were warned to come hungry as the tour began with breakfast in Beşiktaş, sampling menemen, Turkish style scrambled eggs, and bal kaymak, clotted cream blanketed in honey.
The odyssey continued via an Ottoman era bakery for borek, and onto the ferry across the Bosphorus to the market at Üsküdar, where a more traditional food culture is preserved. We sampled honey from Eastern Turkey, olives which the Turkish only eat for breakfast (who knew?) sweets, cheese, summer halva made from walnuts not sesame, seasonal cherries and sour plums, and bought spices which cost a fraction of the same purchased from the Ottolenghi website.
In all the walk has around 13 stops, with gentle walking and enough time to enjoy the grazing without getting stuffed. Ugur was enthusiastic, knowledgeable and happy to go off piste to pursue particular tastes. He ended our day with a surprise picnic wine tasting on the banks of the Bosphorus, to show off wine made from indigenous grapes.