Simit that is the best friend of tea on the ferry, fish sandwich that comes to mind when one says Eminönü, roasted chestnut which is the indispensable taste of winter months, sweet corn you can come across at every corner with both as roasted and boiled, and lokma (fried sweet dough) with a pinch of cinnamon...
Street tastes of Istanbul are not only a part of today's lifestyle. It is known that the scene was the same in streets of Istanbul in the past. Prof. Dr. Artun Ünsal who is writing on the traditional Turkish and Ottoman cuisine gives information about street vendors in the Ottoman era in one of his articles on traditional grand bazaar cuisine and touches upon articles of Francis Marion Cravvford, an American travel writer, who visited Istanbul in 1890. According to these articles; Istanbul of the 1890s had "food and beverage sellers who keep on carrying their wicker trays up and down through the crowd." The writer lists such sellers as follows: Those who sell bread, pita and hard biscuits, those selling assortments of cheese as well as yogurt on a round tray, and cooks selling kebab of lamb and mutton pieces grilled on wooden skewers, rice or zucchini and other stuffed vegetables kept warm in a large pot, sellers of confectionery, pudding sellers and sherbet sellers. The American writer explains the quality of these products sold on the streets by saying "…… one can't help admiring the too much cleanliness of all these hawkers who sell food and drink, and the truly appetizing appearance of what they sell." (1)
Street vendors still continue to color up the streets of Istanbul.
First ever records, encountered in court records, relating to simit, one of the symbol tastes of Istanbul, that used to be called simid-i halka, date back to the year 1593. Simit, which is sold by vendors and bakeries almost in every corner of the city from the Historical Peninsula to Çengelköy is accompanied by tea any time of the day.
Sellers of Fish Sandwiches in Eminönü, with the smell of fresh fish reaching out to Galata Bridge, are one of the most visited locations not only by local and foreign tourists but also by Istanbulites all the year round.
Chestnut, an indispensable treat for winter, is a taste that you can encounter virtually in every quarter of Istanbul. Chestnuts sold by street vendors attract the tourists' attention in particular.
Lokma (fried sweet dough)
Lokma, fried sweet dough, which has been named differently almost in every culture from the Middle East to the Balkans, is an indispensable part of traditional and modern Turkish Cuisine.
Whether rested in lemon juice or vinegar, pickle with several varieties has been a flavor of the Turkish cuisine table from the Ottoman era to the present.
Corn, a fresh taste, piping hot. Boiled or roasted, with or without salt: Vendors selling sweet corn are almost in every square of Istanbul.
Chicken and Rice
Rice and Chickpeas, a taste that accompanies the hassle of the city. This dish which is particularly identified with Unkapanı quarter offers a feast of taste when preferred to be consumed with pickles.
(1) Artun Ünsal, 2012, “Geçmişten Günümüze İstanbul’un Lokantaları”, Şehir ve Kültür: Istanbul, Profil Yayıncılık, Istanbul, p. 403.