Istanbul; Egyptian Market(Spice Bazaar)

January 31, 2015

We  decided to spend our last half day in Istanbul in a more relaxed way. We were on vacation, after all! We did our best to lazily roll out of bed and make breakfast a leisurely affair. We were having the best weather possible on this trip and it almost demanded that we explore the city by foot. We walked past the Blue Mosque, cut through the  Hippodrome and followed the train tracks to the Egyptian Market or the Spice Bazaar.

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The Spice Bazaar was a bit of a revelation. The Grand Bazaar is huge and it is easy to lose yourself inside, but the Spice Bazaar is much smaller. It is somewhat ‘T’ shaped, with three short branches. Both sides of these branches are lined with shops selling spices, herbs, sweets, dryfruits, dryfruits stuffed with dryfruits, soaps, teas and more.

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As we walked through the bazaar we were besieged with entreaties to come in and take a look. Once inside we were plied with tea and charm. Beware. It is easy to be led in by the vividly coloured spices and pleasant manner of the salesman, but it is much harder to come out empty handed. The salesforce makes their money on commissions. If you do leave without buying, they will hand you their card and tell you to ask for them when you come back. More exotic than the spices were the teas. The shops had a flabbergasting variety of fruit and floral teas, few credited with aphrodisiacal qualities. I am told, apple and pomegranate are the top sellers.

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I am a collector and hoarder of spices and spice mixes. In any supermarket, I am most likely to be found in the spice aisle, scouting for new additions to my stash.  Last semester we had guest speaker in our economics class who happened to mention the high levels of adulteration in ground spices. That class made me wary but has not cured me of my fixation. We almost came home with an assortment of goodies, but were saved by a bargain that didn’t work out.

P.S –Check out the Istanbul, Turkey album our FB page to enjoy our journey through pictures.

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2 thoughts on “Istanbul; Egyptian Market(Spice Bazaar)

  1. Nitin says:

    Well written Vidu. I’ve always been fascinated with spice markets. There’s one in Dubai too. It’s an exotic collection of spices from the Arab world that they probably use in their biryanis! #mouthwatering

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    • Spices, medicinal herbs, aromatic incenses, fragrant essential oils and other such commodities have been traded in this marketplace for 350 years now. This bazaar was once the largest spice trading venue of the medieval world. Western merchants would come here to buy from Egyptian traders. As Olga of deliciousistanbul.com puts it – foreigners coming to buy foreign goods – that’s what the Istanbul Spice Market is and has always been about.

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