Turkey – Fly Swatter

Shop Til You Drop

Traversing the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey can be a daunting task. The Sip Advisor, never one to leave anybody behind, will make sure we all get through unscathed, much like I did for Mrs. Sip in the markets of Egypt… except for that one guy who copped a feel of Mrs. Sip’s beautiful behind when I stopped paying attention, frustrated over the haggling between shopkeeper and customer. Let’s cautiously explore together!

There are also Grand Bazaars in Isfahan, Iran; Tehran, Iran; Urumqi, Xinjiang, China; and Tabriz, Iran. The Istanbul version is the oldest and one of the largest covered markets in the world. It spans 61 streets (each is dedicated to a particular profession) and houses over 3,000 stores. Anywhere between 250,000 to 400,000 people will visit the site each day. The Bazaar is open Monday through Saturday, 9:00am to 7:00pm, and entrance is free. Along with Sundays, the market is closed during religious holidays. The facility employs a colossal 26,000 people. Competition from modern day malls does exist, but the Bazaar has history on its side.

Grand Bazaar

There are four main gates to the Bazaar, including the “Second-Hand Book Sellers’ Gate” in the north, the “Skullcap Sellers’ Gate” in the south, the “Jewellers’ Gate” in the east, and the “Women’s Clothiers’ Gate” in the west. Each entrance is locked every night when the market is closed and opened up again in the morning.

Dealing with the high-pressure salespeople at the market can be a bit of a pain and the haggling system is something that thrills some and perplexes others. The Sip Advisor falls into the puzzled category, preferring marked prices over the mystery of bartering. If you want nothing to do with the dealing, simply walk by and say, “No thanks.” This usually works, except for the occasional loser who physically tries to get your attention and then it’s time for the Sip Advisor to “Hulk up” and throw a couple patented flying forearms.

A restoration of the Bazaar began in 2012 to solve many of the issues plaguing the market. Most notably, the lack of restrooms (I guess you could just pee wherever you like before) and repairing the infrastructure to combat the risk of any future earthquakes. Updates to the facility’s heating and lighting systems are also being carried out.

construction-meme

Construction for what would become the Grand Bazaar began in 1455-56, at the behest of Sultan Mehmet II, and lasted until 1460-61. This building, dedicated to the trading of textiles was soon joined by another building, constructed under Sultan Suleyman I. The textile market was moved to this new structure while luxury goods occupied the older building. The space between and around the edifices was quickly inhabited by other shops, creating a larger market scene. By the 17th century, the Bazaar had taken full shape and become the hub of Mediterranean trade thanks to the quantity, quality, and variety of goods that could be found there.

Fires, earthquakes, and other disasters afflicted the Bazaar over time. There were at least a dozen fires between 1515 and 1701, many of which caused great damage to the shops and structures. The expansion of the 19th century textile industry into western Europe and advancements in production methods took a major toll on the Grand Bazaar, which saw rental prices fall sharply compared to previous decades. Perhaps the Sip Advisor should set up shop in the place and regale customers with my tales of boozery!

The market has also seen its fair share of corruption. The most notable case took place in 1591 when 30,000 gold coins were stolen. The Grand Bazaar was shut down for two weeks while suspects (and likely completely innocent folks) were tortured by the forces tasked with solving the crime. The missing coins were found under some flooring and a young Persian musk dealer was to blame. He was hanged for his transgression, although Sultan Murad III saved him from being tortured to death.

hanged-man

While the Bazaar is now sectioned off into separate “stores”, it used to be that sellers each had their own stall, six to eight feet wide. There was no advertising by shopkeepers (even store names were not displayed) and a buyer could sit down with a vendor over Turkish coffee and come to an agreement in a relaxed conversation. Herbs and spices, crystal, jewellery, silk goods, sandals, armour and weapons, and books are among the items you might be able to find at the Bazaar.  Thankfully, I don’t need any of those.

The market used to operate in a guild system and because of this and the ethics of Islam, business operators didn’t compete as they do today. Prices were fixed to a standard number and success was shared among the union. Western influences changed that, as did other nationalities entering the Bazaar world to sell their wares. There was also a lack of restaurants in the market back in the day. You could still find simple items such as kebabs, but most workers brought their lunch from home. The Bazaar was a place for social gatherings among Turks, much like punk kids meet at the mall today to stare at their smartphones.

Nowadays, I only go to the mall to enjoy a cold beer. I don’t think that would be happening in Turkey, so might as well stay here and enjoy my own stock!

Turkey: Fly Swatter

Fly Swatter Cocktail

  • 1 oz Cognac
  • 1 oz Scotch
  • 0.5 oz Raki
  • Top with Orange Juice and Apple Juice
  • Garnish with Orange Wedge

I’m not big on shopping in general, but these market set-ups really take the cake. How do all you little sippers feel about them? Love’em? Hate’em? Just plain don’t care? Let me know. I’m glad we all made it through the Bazaar and only a handful of you lost your spouses or fortunes. Next up, we try Turkey’s traditional national sport: oiled wrestling. Yup, you read that right!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I altered the ingredients slightly, using Sparkling Orange Juice, rather than plain old OJ and Apple-Lime Juice, instead of regular AJ. The result was pretty good for this booze heavy cocktail and the only ingredient I worried about, the Raki, fit in just right.

Turkey – Siege of Constantinople

Morsels and Mouthfuls

It may be the ancestor to my beloved jelly beans and for that alone, one has to appreciate and give thanks to the sweet snack from Turkey. Turkish Delight has a rich history, dating back nearly 250 years. Today, the delicacy has been embraced around the world. Here are some notes of interest as we stop for a quick bite in our Around the World tour:

Natural Viagra

Natural Viagra??? Probably cheaper than the pills, too!

Some stories say that Turkish Delight was created by a powerful sultan for the purpose of enticing his many mistresses. After all, the way to a woman’s heart is through her stomach… come on fellas, we all know this to be true. Anyway, the sultan had his kitchen staff prepare the gelatinous dessert and the rest is history. Or is it? Another fable has the treat being created as royal chefs competed for the attention of the sultan, with one cook creating what is now known as Turkish Delight.

The more plausible tale involves a sweet maker named Bekir Efendi moving his operation to Istanbul in 1776 and capitalizing on the notorious sweet tooth of Turkish citizens. Efendi’s Turkish Delights became the hottest item to have, a symbol of wealth and upper class standing. The pleasures were even exchanged by couples as token of love.

Once Efendi’s confections hit the royal palace and the sultan’s mouth, the popularity of the item skyrocketed. Efendi’s store still exists, with new recipes being dreamt up all the time, some including pistachios, walnuts, chocolate, and oranges.

Turkish Delight

From the thriving businesses of Turkey, the Delights have gained a fan base around the world:

Known as lokma (morsel), lokum (mouthful), and rahat-ul hulkum (comfort of the throat) in Turkey, the origins of the name Turkish Delight are said to trace back to a British man, who fell in love with the dessert during visits to Istanbul and purchased cases of the product to be shipped back home under the label ‘Turkish Delight’. It spread throughout Europe’s upper class, being exchanged as presents wrapped in silk handkerchiefs. The treat has also been known as ‘Lumps of Delight,’ long before the Black Eyed Peas forever changed what we thought of when we heard the term lumps.

Across the commonwealth, in places like the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, folks can also get their sweet fix with Fry’s Turkish Delight by Cadbury, although the product varies from the traditional creation.

Turkish Delight is known as rahat in Romania, but because Turkish words were altered to be more harsh, if not entirely eliminated from Romanian language, the term translates to meaning “shit”. Just be cautious, if ever in the country, to not beg for a sweet mouthful of rahat, or else you may find yourself the literal butt of a joke.

Tim+Tam+Turkish+Delight

I want to try this product so bad… combines two things I really enjoy!

In the United States, two Armenian immigrants began manufacturing Aplets and Cotlets in 1930. The Turkish Delight used apples and apricots, respectively with walnuts. In 1984, their Liberty Orchards company based out of Cashmere, Washington added a Fruit Delights line, with strawberry, raspberry, orange, blueberry, peach, cranberry, and pineapple flavours. In recent years, Liberty Orchards has also released more traditional flavours, such as rose-pistachio, orange-blossom-walnut, and rose-lemon. Mrs. Sip and I have been to their factory, along with many trips as a wee little sipper with Ma and Pa Sip. It’s a quaint little place with so many free samples to gorge yourself on and a tour of the production line.

At home, here in Canada, you can get the Nestle chocolate bar Big Turk, which is a delicious blend of pink Turkish Delight and chocolate. Most Bridge Mix packs also contain red and green Turkish Delight balls, along with chocolate-covered peanuts, raisins, almonds, and the other usual suspects.

Turkish Delight is also popular in Greece and Brazil, stretching the treat’s influence around the world.

Its most recognized use in pop culture is in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, which sees the character of Edmund Pevensie dying as a result of his addiction to the confection. Despite what some would view as a negative connotation, sales for the product went up after the 2005 film The Chronicles of Narnia was released. Clearly, people are stupid, so let’s have a drink in their honour and sample some Turkish Delight!

Turkey: Siege of Constantinople

Siege of Constantinople Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz Raki
  • 0.5 oz Vodka
  • Top with Tonic Water
  • Splash of Chile Syrup
  • Dash of Simple Syrup
  • Dash of Orange Bitters
  • Garnish with Orange Zest

In its native land, Turkish Delight is often served with the equally revered Turkish Coffee, but I don’t swing that way, so let’s booze it up instead and finish off an entire box of the dessert before we even realize what’s happening!

Sip Advisor Bar Notes (3.5 Sips out of 5):
I was very curious as to how the Raki and Tonic Water in particular would mix together. It wasn’t as bad as some may fear and when you add the other touches, such as the Chile Syrup and Orange Bitters, you have the making of a unique and interesting cocktail that may not be for everyone, but deserves a chance from those brave enough to experiment.