Monday, July 1, 2013

Talking Turkey

My friend Lol recently paid a visit to Turkey, and very graciously took some pictures of fruit stands in Istanbul. (Note to readers: I'd love to get your pictures too - the farther afield from New York the better. That means you, audience member in Mauritius. And you, in Kuwait and Kazakhstan! And you too, Luc of the Jacaranda Primary and Secondary School in Malawi. Just email me your interesting photos - odd fruit, mystery veggies, only-natives-love-it produce, local markets - at Thanks!)

The first photos howcases some very attractive melons (with more of a vine/leaf presence that melons generally do in the US); squash; beans; potatoes; and onions.

When I visited Turkey about 15 years ago, I went in March - a particularly cold March. I was a little startled that there was snow on the ground. I hadn't expected Istanbul to be colder than New York.

In those days Turkey did not import produce - that's probably no longer the case - so the produce selection was a bit limited. I recall that carrots were ever-present, along with grapes, specifically the most wonderful muscat grapes I've ever had.

Turkey has changed a lot since then, but I hope the muscat grapes are as good as ever.

Lol also snapped a picture of cherries, always of interest to me, sold alongside small green plums that were unfamiliar to her. As she wrote,  "There was a fruit in Istanbul I hadn't had before - a kind of green plum that isn't sweet. It's not exactly sour, but it wasn't sweet."

By some cosmic coincidence, while Lol was in Istanbul checking out the strange green plums, I was at Kalustyan's, New York's premier spice bazaar - I also checking out the strange green plums they had on display. 

Fortunately a sign explained it all:

Erik! Not just a man's name, it was a global phenomenon. I bought some plums, took them home and cut them up, and tried them with the requisite salt.

As I snacked, I googled "goje sabz" and found this heartfelt ode on the blog My Persian Kitchen:

Do you have any fond childhood memories that involve food? I do. Many.  I always get that fuzzy feeling inside any time I see or taste something that I loved in my childhood. Everyone looked forward to when [gojeh sabz] were in season because every loves Gojeh Sabz. If you are Persian and you don’t like them, then there is something wrong with you. Can I be any more judgemental???!! Seriously….
 Gojeh Sabz is actually sour plums which have not fully riped. They are sour and delicious! During this time of the year I buy them from our local Persian Grocery store. Much to my delight while I was at the Farmers Market in Torrance yesterday there was a vendor who was selling them. How awesome is that?I just stood in front of the tables and had a moment of happiness with me myself and I.The way we eat them is with a little pinch of salt.  The combination of sour and salty is just out of this world good! It will make you giggle!!! All you have to do is take a little bite, then sprinkle a little salt, take another bite, another sprinkle of salt and another bite….next thing you know you have gone through a whole bunch of them, because they are just like potato chips.

I certainly understand how powerful food memories are. And yes, even produce inspires longing in the homesick. But are erik/gojeh sabz/janareng as addictive as potato chips?


They were okay, but not more than the sum of their parts. "Gee, this tastes like a salty, unripe plum," I thought. Since I had a little pile of salt remaining from Operation Appreciate Gojeh Sabz, I thought I'd experiment with another plum - a ripe one. Whaddaya know? I liked it better. 

And it was even better without the salt. 

1 comment:

  1. the green sure plums are called Mirabella or mirabelle , they turn red or yellow when they are right ;)