Finding the True Turkish Delight in Istanbul / by Jiri Duzar

When people ask me what my most favorite city in the world is, I usually give them three answers. First is Prague. Even though I wasn't born there, I lived in Prague for most of my mid and late 20s, and I expect to spend there most of my life. Second is New York, a city where I currently live and will always hold close to my heart (and my stomach). Last but not least is Istanbul, a city where I have been returning to as a visitor most often. The spring of 2018 marked my sixth visit since I had set my foot in here for the first time in 2009. And as I’m writing this photo journal six months later, there is something inside my head telling me that I will come back again soon.

Turkey is world-known for its distinctive cuisine and oriental spice-infused variety of both sweet and savory dishes. One of them is the Turkish delight, a sought-after gelatine confection filled with dates, pistachios, and hazelnuts or walnuts dusted with icing sugar. It might surprise you but I’m not a huge fan of the dish, but I love the collocation of the two words.

When someone mentions Turkish delight, it brings back all my memories from the time when I studied in Turkey in 2009/2010 and from the countless hitchhiking trips all over the country. Turkish delight means waking up in the morning and having menemen (eggs, tomato, green peppers, and spices cooked in olive oil) for breakfast. It is walking the streets of Istanbul and drinking Turkish tea and coffee as muezzins are calling people to prayers. Turkish delight is to have iskender kebab (thinly cut grilled lamb topped with hot tomato sauce over pieces of pita with melted sheep butter and yogurt) for lunch and simit (Turkish take on sesame bagel) with ayran (salty yogurt-based drink) as an afternoon snack. Going to hamam (Turkish bath) is another delight, just as trying to beat the locals in tavla (backgammon).

I’m happy I could share my Turkish delight moments with Zuzi, my partner in crime who under my heavy influence became quickly addicted to all things Turkish. Below you can see some highlights of our journey. The next photo journal will take you to the heart of Anatolia as we explore Cappadocia both from land and air.