Fish sandwiches in Istanbul

DSC_6674 If I hadn't been reminded of it by a recent post at EatingAsia, this blog probably would have continued sitting in my Out box.

I spent fewer than 48 hours in Istanbul, but in this short time got the impression that eating takes a distinctly different form there.

Take, for example, the costume and showmanship associated with serving Turkish-style ice cream:


or tea:


Or the city's alleged signature dish, balık ekmek, a type of fish sandwich, which, of course, isn't just a sandwich, but a show performed on rocking boats:


The boats, which are moored by the foot of the Galata Bridge on Istanbul's European side, are floating kitchens where men griddle fillets of a mackerel-like fish and serve them in sandwiches. You pay on the pier and when the wave is right, the sandwich is handed over:


Served in a spongy roll with a bit of lettuce and onion, and seasoned with little more than salt and lemon juice, I have to admit that my first balık ekmek was, quite frankly, rather underwhelming as a sandwich.

But eaten at the waterfront, with the view of Asia across the way, and the New Mosque as a backdrop:


it seemed to embody that uniquely Istanbul intersection of ceremony and setting, where sometimes taste is only part of the experience.

Fish sandwich vendors Golden Horn, Istanbul

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