The Spice Bazaar and the awesome vegan street food in Istanbul
Istanbul is so much more than Kebabs and heavy meat dishes! Istanbul is all about great quality products and fresh vegan and vegetarian dishes as well. Today we’re going to explore the Spice Bazaar and the awesome vegan street food in Istanbul.
If you’re staying at the European part of Istanbul, where most monuments and touristic sites are located, you’ll bump into a huge amount of street vendors selling all sorts of vegan treats. From Turkish “bagels/breads” to corn, pomegranate juices and castanya, I guarantee you won’t go hungry!
My Singaporean friends and I, went for long walks through the city. Istanbul has an excellent tram and metro system, but we wanted to feel the city and bump into hidden little corners. We found many fruit shops where you can get fresh squeezed pomegranate and other fruit juices. If you’re visiting during spring or summer time, this is the best option to keep your body cool.
The Spice Bazaar or Egyptian Bazaar (in Turkish Mısır Çarşısı) Is one of the biggest and oldest in Istanbul. Located at the Eminou neighborhood, in the Faith district and close to the Yeni Mosque, it’s back end meets the Galactic bridge, near the river and the Sirkesi station.
Several documents suggest the original name of this market was “New Bazaar”. But since Spices were the most sought after trade merchandise, and since most of them came originally from Egypt, the therm “Egyptian market” became more and more popular.
The Turkish term Misir, similar to Egypt’s name in Arab (Misr), can either mean Egypt or corn, which created several mistakes when translating the name of this market, to the “corn Bazaar”. Since it’s creation this has been the number one bazaar for the commerce of spices in Istanbul.
It’s incredible to think this Bazaar has been active for about 350 years and is still the most important market not only for spices, but for medicinal herbs, teas, soaps, aromatic incenses, fragrant essential oils, etc. There are a lot of exotic products from East, like Chinese floral teas and herbs….
This is where you feel the West meets east.. And you should take a few hours to get lost in these labyrinth little streets. I loved walking around, trying the Turkish delights, bargaining, talking to the local people. This Bazaar is so full of life!
Yes, if you’re a woman, you’ll notice you’ll get plenty of male attention, specially if you’re blond. I’m a Mediterranean brunette, but I still had plenty of unwanted attention. I don’t get particularly upset with it, it’s annoying but I do my best to ignore it and take it as part of the experience.
Outside of the Bazaar, you’ll find the food market. There are the cheese sections, the olive, the bean area, and the fresh fruit and vegetables.
I think I had never seen so much cheese and so many varieties in one single place. I can imagine cheese lovers going crazy in here. I’m more into the olives and I have to admit I was fascinated by the colors, smells and variety I found. I’m from a Mediterranean country, olives are an integral part of our cuisine, but I think Turkey holds the record for the variety.
Fruit lovers, you’ll find Istanbul to be one of the most interesting European destinations for fresh fruit. Not only the fruit here looks natural, it’s extremely fragrant and colorful, unlike certain fruits from other European countries which might have been played around for too long with hybrid mixtures and extensive artificial production.
I definitely fell in Love with Istanbul. One of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever visited. People are warm, welcoming and friendly. I felt safe as a solo female traveler and the moment I left, I knew I would have to come back in the near future to explore more of the country!
My visit to Turkey was an unsuspected free 3 day layover perk and I’m so happy my travel agent advised me to go for it! If you happen to have free 24 or more hours of layover, take advantage of it and explore this amazing city!
For more info on Turkey, check out the official Turish tourism board