Sunday, November 23, 2008
Sunday is Market Day in our neighborhood. Actually, it's one neighborhood over, since our neighborhood is too high-class to have a street market, but it's only a 10-15 minute walk away, so we make that market our own. The neighborhood that holds it is a largely immigrant neighborhood -- you see more Africans here than anywhere else in the city. One of our Turkish friends told us that many of the people living here are asylum-seekers, trapped in limbo while waiting to find out if Germany, France, or somewhere else will accept them. But most of them end up staying for years, marrying Turks, having children, becoming a semi-invisible part of the landscape of Istanbul. It is an interesting and friendly neighborhood, and we really enjoy visiting the market!
Since it is such a regular part of our weekly life here, we wanted to share the experience with our friends and family as much as we can through the blog. Usually, a group of three or four of us walk over in the mid-morning and spend and hour and a half or so browsing and buying. It's a wonderful sensory experience. There is so much to look at, to smell, to sample. Plus the salesmen (all men) are constantly hawking their wares with loud cries of "Bir milyon, bir milyon, bir milyon" (1 million lira), or trying to out-sing each other, calling attention to their superior cabbages or tomatoes. Here's a short video that gives just a hint of what it's like:
You can purchase literally anything here -- from fruit to fish, perfume to pants, toys to textiles -- if anyone sees something interesting in the pictures that they want as a souvenir, speak up! And the prices are amazing. The childrens' clothes seem to be an especially good bargain, although of course we have not bought any. But if those of you with kids want us to pick something up (probably not great quality, but good enough for running around and playing in) let us know and we will send them back to the States with the next "courier" that comes to visit (shipping them would probably make the savings disappear).
The fruits and vegetables are fresh and cheap. Since we don't have a kitchen we are a bit limited in what we can buy, which is a shame, but the dairy and spices are also good. Here are some pictures of the yummy produce:
Cabbages as big as TWO heads!
Foy: Do you know what kind of beans these are?
You can also buy fresh fish, right from the Bosphorus:
And cheap housewares:
(check out the fake Converse -- they didn't even try to make the insignia look real!):
Textiles and lace:
Just to give you an idea of the range of things that are available (and the wonderful prices), I thought I might share what we bought today:
1 pound of tomatoes
1 pound of cucumbers
1 pound of oranges
1 pound of lemons
2 pounds of grapes (the last of the season since it has started freezing here?)
a quarter pound of fresh cheese
a container of hazelnut-chocolate creme (for breakfast, yum)
a vegetable peeler
a long-sleeved undershirt (for Candace, so Nonnie can stop worrying)
a pair of wool socks (also for Candace -- they have the Evil Eye on them!)
a utility towl (for Peter's art projects)
a packet of raw indigo dye (also for Peter, not sure what it will be used for yet)
10 packs of purse-size kleenex (it's that time of year)
All of these cost us a meager 17 lira, which converts to just over $10! Wow! (at least I think so!)
Heading Home from the Market