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Finding out about new and exotic cultures is the best thing about traveling. And Istanbul offers plenty of highlights for global explorers. Its colorful Ottoman history has turned the city on the Bosphorus River into a cosmopolitan metropolis, a melting pot of influences from all over the world. The smell of street food such as hot chestnuts, stuffed mussels, lamb or fish grilled on charcoal and the sesame-encrusted bread rings, known as simit, wafts enticingly throughout the wholecity.

Your mouth will water as you walk past the many stalls in the bustling bazaars, all piled high with fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and spices. But there’s no better way to get to know the Turkish culture than during a meal with local friends! The evening meal in particular is the epitome of slow food.

People like to sit together at the table for hours on end, telling stories, discussing or talking politics while enjoying lavishly prepared dishes. The table will likely be creaking under the weight of the assortment of starters alone: salads, pickled vegetables, puff pastry pies, and meat and fish specialties.

A soup is followed by a choice of hearty meat dishes – grilled and stuffed and served with pilafs (rice dishes seasoned with broth and spices). The best way to wash it all down is with a few glasses of chai or an icy cold Efes beer.

And the selection of desserts is bound to get your blood sugar levels rising to new highs: a typical Turkish menu includes Maraş ice cream, sweet puddings, and of course baklava in every conceivable variation.

Of course your meal wouldn’t be complete without a strong Turkish coffee. After finishing it all off with a few rounds of raki you’ll be bidding everyone an emotional farewell and heading off to discover what Istanbul’s nightlife has to offer.


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