Street food in İstanbul is a cuisine on its own. A city inhabiting 16 million people develops her own fast-food for the fast slow of life. Therefore, street food is a matter to be considered on its own.
Street Food for Beginners, Simit
Simit is basically street food 101 for İstanbul and Turkey. No matter what, rich or poor or middle class, without no exception every individual loves a bite of simit along with a sip of tea. Even the friends and family of the Turks living abroad send them half cooked frozen simits via cargo companies. A Turk can live on without air but cannot without simit. Do not consider yourself if you have not eaten simit with cheese and sip a cup of tea eaten fast food in Turkey.
Simit is not just a street food but a food that has also made the seagulls of İstanbul pretty lazy animals. Keeping in mind that seagulls are heron animals, they hardly spend any time and effort for fishing. Instead, they chase ferries because people feed them with bites of simits. Joking aside, this chance of sharing your life with another being is another pleasure of life of İstanbul.
Cutting the simit from the middle and putting slices of melting cheese and tomato slices welcomes you to another street food; “simit tost”. Do you wish to learn more? Keep reading. 😊
Street Food That Exceeds Expectations of Foreigners; Tost!
Tost, named after “toast”, from English is a food that exceeds the expectations of expats and foreigners and disappoints each and every Turk going abroad. Toast outside of Turkey means nothing other than a warm and crispy slice of bread, but in Turkey the simplest “tost” means a slice of melted cheese between two slices of bread, buttered from outside.
This can also be considered as street food 101, because, no matter how much hurry you are in, you can always find a “büfe” to serve you a tost with a variety of materials inside. Tost with cheese and salami, tost with salami and sucuk (Turkish pepperoni) are the most basic types, but there are places serving up to 20+ types of tost.
Street Food Turks Have Imported from Balkans, Köfte!
Balkans share a vast cultural heritage with Turkey. Music, holidays, joys and sorrows are unification points of many nations of Balkans and Turks of Turkey along with a food; köfte! Köfte, although is translated as meatballs, although “imported” from Balkans, almost each city and region of Turkey has its own recipe for it. But the most popular version for köfte, indisputably is the köfte cooked by chapmen as street food and served as sandwich with garnish. Football acts an indisputable role in this because köfte-cooking chapmen are stationed in front of every stadium, without exception.
A fun fact about football and köfte; SL Benfica of Portugal and Beşiktaş of Turkey share the same symbol, eagle, SL Benfica traditionally begins their games with an eagle flying to centre spot and Beşiktaş decides to do the same. The management of the club arranges with the eagle tamer and practices before games a number of times with success. But when the game day comes, an eagle flies outside the stadium chasing köftes cooked by chapmen, just as anyone from İstanbul that cannot resist this street food.
Street Food 24 / 7; Kokoreç!
Kokoreç is the major walk-in food especially in İstanbul. Even in the 1990s, while regulating rules and laws to the European Union, the main objection from population rose for kokoreç! This meal is basically lamb’s bowels and tail fat wrapped together and grilled with spices. As horrible as it sounds, that is a flavour from paradise and all Turks are ready to defend it with their lives against the European Union. 😊
Street Food That Came on Earth Without Knowing It
It is no secret that Turks are originated to be as a nomad nation from Middle Asia and came to Anatolia and Trace by conquers of armies focused on light cavalry, who are basically every living person in the tribe. Those armies moving on horses developed their own eating regime inevitably which reached to today’s Turkish cuisine. For instance, “pasırtma”, the delightful delicatessen food unique for Turkey is based on those light cavalry’s catering, slices of meat squeezed between horse and saddle, of course now producing under healthy and regulated conditions.
“Pastırma” is not only the most respected item of a grand-Turkish breakfast, but also an item that can be added to omelettes, tosts or probably the most popular Turkish food, kuru fasulye “dry beans food”. As much as an item to be added to the street foods, “pastırma” is also an indipensible item for traditional Turkish cuisine.
Street Food Out of The Sea, Mussels
Mussels are known to be a type of food to be served in fine dining meals outside of Turkey, but not in İstanbul! Mussels filled with rice and spice can be found all around the city sold by chapmen along with street food restaurants serve the fried mussels and kokoreç as well. Mussels are one of a kind as being both, a portion of street food and delicious meze for a fine dining meal.
Street Food Unique to Turkey
Wraps are an indispensable part of Turkish cuisine as street food. Wraps are being served with a grand variety from kebap to falafels all around İstanbul and Turkey. For instance, kebap is known to be a lasting meal to be eaten with a lot of mezes aside, a wrapped kebap is no surprise for a restaurant taking the order. Actually, in Adana, the homeland of kebap, wrapped kebap has its own name as “sokum”.
Döner, as well as served on plate, is maybe the most common wrapped type of street food in İstanbul and Turkey. The easiest way to reach to protein can be found all around the country, not only for beef but also with chicken; which has reached to a well deserved fame under the name of “shwarma” in Avengers the movie in 2012.
Wrap, sandwich, no matter what, street food is a signature of İstanbul that is to be flavoured by anyone in İstanbul.