25 February 2012

Things Turkish People Like

The Turkish Flag and Atatürk. Every country likes their flag and their most revered leader. But, in Turkey, it's easy to spot. The bright red flag flew everywhere. This one, pictured, was stenciled onto a car. Mustafa Kemel's photo hung on walls in establishments. He is the father of Modern Turkey, "Atatürk," and devotion to him is so strong that it is actually illegal to say anything negative about the man.
Branded Wet Naps. For most businesses in Turkey, giving customers wet naps isn't just a service - it's promotional. These branded packages, filled with napkins doused in lemony cleaner, are given before and after a meal. Sometimes, yet again, on the way out. We have quite a collection.
Nuts, Seeds and Chickpeas. Here, at a meyhane, men drank tea and Efes beer and snacked on pumpkin seeds. The click click click of shelling is heard all over the place. Beer is always accompanied by a bowl of nuts, sometimes salted peanuts, sometimes small, soft, tasty Turkish pistachios. My favorite is the "Koktyl" mix of almonds, peanuts, pistachios and dried, crunchy chickpeas.Gravestones with Hats. On the Gelibolu Peninsula, these markers were designed to look like they were wearing helmets. In Istanbul, we stumbled upon an old cemetery with gravestones topped with turbans and fezes fashioned out of the stone.LinkMale Hair Salons. Since women traditionally keep their hair covered it's up to men to keep the art of hair sculpture alive. And boy do they. There's a salon on every block and they do not lack for business. Teenagers go for mohawk-type hairdos with fancy designs shaved into the side. They gel their hair up in the front, down in the back, to one side or another. Older men go for a less ostentatious, neat styling - usually some version of a short cropped bowl cut meticulously blown out.
Simits. These wildly popular snacks are available all over the place. Having taste-tested, we've decided that the one sold by men who balance a stack on their head are the best. The ones sold in stores or cafes are the worst. All are covered in fragrant, roasted sesame seeds - sometimes applied with a delicately sweet egg white wash. They taste a lot like a bagel and it's become popular in Istanbul to eat them sliced with cream cheese.
These Shoe-Shine Stands. There were a lot of shoe-shines and they all used these stands. Really cool.
Bargaining and Touting. I know I've mentioned this in a lot of other posts, but touting and bargaining are a real part of day to day life. What's nice about both practices here is the congeniality with which they're done. It is simply how business runs and you never get the sense that anyone's really trying to rip anyone else off.


  1. You have a very nice blog and beautiful pictures. Your travels sound great. I just have to disagree with one point, and that is the men hairdressers are keeping the art alive because women cover their hair. I think you will find more hairdressers whose clientele is women than men. Because only a portion of women keep their hair covered,many women are not covering their hair and very modern.Even the covered ones go to the hair dressers very regularly. However, based on my experience, I can say that there are more hairdressers who are men that really rock the art if that is what you mean. That is one thing I struggled here in the US, finding a good hairdresser who knows what they are doing, instead of cutting however many inches off of your hair no matter what the style is!


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