Two things have the power to get my friends and me up before dawn: the prospect of offal for breakfast and food markets. The former is a custom in Southeastern Anatolia, but we were in Istanbul last Sunday, so it was the latter that got Semsa and I out of our beds and into a taxi bound for Kasımpaşa near the Golden Horn. We met Hande, Theo, Nikki and Oliver along the way and arrived at this special Sunday morning market with empty stomachs and high expectations.
We had all been hearing about this market for ages, but none of us had ever been. It is named for Kastamonu, a town in Turkey’s Black Sea region 250 mi (405 km) east of Istanbul. Kastamonu thrives off its biodiversity and vendors make the weekly trip to Turkey’s most populated city to sell their dairy products, honey, poultry, bread and produce.
The idea of locavore eating in Turkey is an implausible one, as over 16 million people live in Istanbul and communities, like Kastamonu, survive by producing food for the city. 250 miles is a relatively short distance to travel, considering some kebab shops I know import lambs from as far as Antep. So this long-distance commerce is essential to Turkey’s agricultural livlihood and the demand for products from Kastamonu keeps its incredible biodiverstiy alive and well. Here are some of the wonderful things we saw and tasted: