I took my fifteen year old grandson Adam to Istanbul for a week of culture and cuisine. I had been to Istanbul twice before; once in1959 when I was the only woman seen on the street or in restaurants; again in 1993 with a group of Chefs as part of an Oldways trip. And this year. The changes in the city are amazing. Today Istanbul is a vibrant international center. From 1 1/2 million people in 1959 to almost 15 million today.
Because I was traveling with a teenager I arranged for a professional guide for two days as I did not trust my rusty art history background to educate Adam as to the wonders of the Islamic and Ottoman world. So this gave us both a fresh look at the Haghia Sofia, Blue Mosque, Topkapi palace and other architectural miracles.
The Bazaar seemed even more overwhelming this time around, too many T shirts and tchotches. Better luck at the spice market where I bought wooden tasting spoons, ideal for dipping into a really hot stew or soup and not burning your mouth.
As a chef, food was , as usual, on my mind. I went in seach of dishes that I had eaten and cooked before ( did my version measure up? ) and of course always looking for new ones to add to my repertoire. The su boregi (water borek ) at Borsa was amazing , as well as their icli kofte and manti. so good that I will now attmpet to recreate them at home. I loved the ekmek Kadayif at Hunkar. Just the right amount of sweet syrup to soak the bread. And that gorgeous kaymak cream. We ate street food galore, loving the wraps at Durumzade and the pistachio cream filled filo pastries at Gulluoglu. And the amazing vegetable mezze at Ciya where chef Musa creates the most unsual dishes with greens and herbs foraged in the countryside.
I think Adam had a good time. Teenage boys don’t talk much. ( unless you are another teenage boy or girl)