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|2-7 people||Basmane||~6 hours||9:30am|
Quick bite: On this food tour we’ll explore the tangled roots of Izmir’s cuisine and culture, enjoying the friendly laid back environment of the markets near the agora and sampling a variety of dishes unique to this city.
If Istanbul is Turkey’s New York then Izmir is definitely its New Orleans. In this sun-kissed Aegean port city, peoples have come and gone for millennia – Greeks, Cretan Turks, Sephardic Jews, Armenians, Levantine Europeans and Kurds, to name a few – each contributing to the culture of the place, but also, we sense, surrendering to a lifestyle distinctive to the city. To be from Izmir is to know good food and take the time to enjoy it. Exploring the markets, bakeries, lokantas (homestyle restaurants) and tea gardens of the narrow streets that spread out below the ancient Roman-built agora, we are always struck by how local – so “Izmirli,” as the Turks say – the cuisine here is. Digging a little deeper, a wide range of Mediterranean influences reveal themselves in this city’s kitchen, reflective of its rich history.
In this sun-kissed Aegean port city, peoples have come and gone for millennia – Greeks, Cretan Turks, Sephardic Jews, Armenians, Levantine Europeans and Kurds, to name a few – each contributing to the culture of the place, but also, we sense, surrendering to a lifestyle distinctive to the city.
On this walk we’ll explore the tangled roots of Izmir’s cuisine and culture, enjoying the friendly laid back environment of the markets near the agora and sampling a variety of dishes unique to this city. The day will begin with a breakfast of boyoz, a Sephardic savory pastry found only here, slow-cooked eggs and local tulum cheese followed by a slice of history from a 3rd generation helva maker. We’ll visit a workshop where lokma, a donut-like sweet traditionally served to lighten the mood at funerals, is made and explore the crumbling architectural beauty of old Izmir, stopping by a spice vendor who’s wife prepares another local specialty with Sephardic roots, subye, a refreshing drink made from ground melon seeds. We’ll explore a residential neighborhood inhabited by migrant families from the East of Turkey before eating our way through another market filled with local culinary institutions including a fine fish restaurant, a Bosnian-Turkish gastro-café, a pide bakery and one of the best lokantas in the country. Izmir takes its offal seriously, so we’ll give its famous sögüs, poached sheep’s head, a try before finishing the day with a local traditional semolina dessert call sambali and a cup of Turkish coffee made from beans freshly ground the old-fashioned way, in a stone mortar.
It’s a fitting finish to an “Only in Izmir” kind of day.
Fee includes everything consumed on the walk. Some special features:
|No pork served on the walk||Children welcome|
|No alcohol served on the walk||Samples fish and seafood|
|Some, but not all, stops can be altered for vegetarians||Fairly flat terrain /|
An Aegean region grows a food scene. Events celebrating local food and drink —wild greens, wine, bread, the peninsula’s unique date olive, fish—run spring through autumn. In Izmir, at the peninsula’s base, the food tour outfit Culinary Backstreets recently began offering walking tours. Read more
[This] fascinating six-hour tour focuses – like the tours Culinary Backstreets offers in other cities – on restaurants that feature home-style cooking, and on street-food stalls, small-scale food manufacturers and other hidden sites that are not easily accessible to tourists. Read more
“We could travel around Istanbul eating kebab only, and experience every region of Turkey,” says Ansel Mullins, writer and founder of food tour company Culinary Backstreets. “Regionality is a really important subject, the migration of people from all over Turkey to Istanbul for economic reasons, or to escape dangerous places in the country in previous decades,” he adds. Read and watch more