It was at a dinner at Mikla, one of Istanbul’s fanciest restaurants, that we identified a turning point in this city’s restaurant culture, one which might finally favor the informal, traditional and often overlooked local eateries that are the heart, soul and lovely underbelly of this city. Continue »
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Since coming to Istanbul more than a decade ago, we have come to associate a loaf of the city’s iconic crusty white bread with satisfying lunches in an esnaf lokantası, using chunks of the humble loaf to sop up whatever was left on our plate. Since Tuesday, though, a loaf of bread has become something else in Istanbul: a symbol of both mourning and protest. Continue »
Turkey’s European Union membership bid may be stuck in the mud, but a different dynamic is at work on the food front. To wit: the European Commission has granted Gaziantep baklava a spot on its list of protected designations of origin and geographical indications. It’s the first Turkish product and the 16th non-EU food to make it on the list. Continue »
It’s traditional this time of year to take stock of the last 12 months and to make best-of lists, and as our faithful readers know, we are all about the traditional here at Culinary Backstreets. So below is our countdown of the year’s most-read stories. Continue »
Situated on a geographically blessed spot where the waters of the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara meet, Istanbul has long been associated with fishing and, especially, the eating of fish. In culinary terms, after all, is there anything more iconic in Istanbul than eating a freshly grilled fish sandwich sold from one of the bobbing boats down by the Golden Horn? Continue »
Foreigners living in Istanbul often say they love the place for its history, while some say it’s the people who make it special. We find life here mystifying for the unpredictable dialogue between the two, the way 15 million or so people reconcile their daily lives with this city’s rich past. To live inside this beautiful crash course is invigorating and, at the same time, a heartbreaking experience. Continue »
We are very proud to have been included in a New York Times article about small group culinary tours that appears on the front page of today’s Dining section. Looking at food walks in Istanbul, Paris, Rome and a few other culinary capitals, the article hails the arrival of a new kind of guide – the “food Sherpa”:
Just as a traditional Sherpa guide helps a mountain climber navigate the stresses and mysteries of a Himalayan peak, a food sherpa is a local expert who brings a hungry traveler to pockets of the culinary landscape that may otherwise seem out of reach. Continue »
We’re very happy to announce that Culinary Backstreets turns one today! It’s been a wonderful first year and we’re thrilled to see how far we’ve come in this time. When we launched CB last year as the global expansion of IstanbulEats, we set ourselves the goal of covering authentic local eats around the world. Continue »
Editor’s note: In this post, Culinary Backstreets’ Athens correspondent, Despina Trivolis, reflects on the recent demise of two of her city’s oldest restaurants.
Our colleagues in Istanbul often lament that their favorite local, traditional eateries are being pushed out and replaced by impersonal Westernized food chains. Here in Athens, it’s a whole different story. Longstanding, locally owned venues are closing down one after the other these days. Continue »