Saturday, July 4, 2015

Locally Grown Produce at Market Day in Yalikavak, Bodrum

Summer Salad with Fresh Local Ingredients
With its crystal clear blue waters and world renown nightlife, Bodrum is one of the most popular summer destinations in Turkey.  Some come for the beach clubs, others for the refreshing Aegean breeze and quite a few come to rub elbows with the beautiful people, in short, to see and be seen. While my husband and I love the sea and the lovely climate, one of our favorite things about Bodrum is its weekly markets. There is a pazar (bazaar) setup in each town on a different day of the week where the villagers bring their locally grown fruits, vegetables, and locally made olive oil and cheeses to sell. There are also great textiles but that's a subject for another day. 

Our home for the next few weeks will be in Yalikavak, where Thursday is the day of the Pazar. We  arrived at the beginning of the week, and already went in search of the staples of any Turkish kitchen - olive oil, cheese, and olives. The Aegean is the land of olive trees, which means that it is also the home of the "real" olive oil. After purchasing a small selection of green and black olives, the most amazing feta cheese and a liter of olive oil, on Wednesday, we were all set for our Aegean foodie adventure. So, on Thursday morning we dropped by the pazar in Yalikavak to buy our fruit and vegetables.

 I can spend hours in the pazar, talking to the villagers, taking pictures, smelling all the fruits and vegetables and buying more than I can possibly carry. We didn't have too much time, so after a very quick trip to the Yalikavak Pazari, where I picked up bahce domatesi (garden tomatoes), semizotu (purslane), yesil biber (green peppers), kirmizi biber (red peppers), maydanoz (parsley), dereotu (dill), taze sogan (green onions) and salatalik (cucumbers), we got back to our apartment. My husband, who is a genius in the kitchen, put together a salad around one of my favorite ingredients - purslane, which I cannot find anywhere in the States except once in NY at the farmers market set up at Columbia University on Sunday. He added tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and a small bunch of parsley, dill and green onions with an olive oil and pomegranate sauce dressing that he topped with local olives and feta cheese. It was light yet had a complex mix of flavors that was very satisfying.

In the United States, we make an extra effort to find and invest in locally grown food products. In this part of the world, it is just a normal way of life. Around here the people eat healthy, wholesome foods, sit around drinking tea by small coffeehouses by the water and gaze into the sun set over the Aegean... I can get used to this.

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