At a stone’s throw from the famous Spice Market in Istanbul, there is another, the Eminönü Pazari. Just off the beaten tourist path, and yet so close to the Spice Market that I wonder how come I only saw a small handful of tourists there. I came here in search of pide and Rüstem Paşa Camii (more about it below), and found a proper little treasure-trove of life and food. Full of life, more real and with more grit, I find this market also so much more interesting!
Bursting with life and character, it is less famous with the visitors, but probably more useful and meaningful to the locals. In this small warren of streets all manner of cooking utensils can be found. Let me take you on a little tour.
Traditional Turkish utensils such as this sahan for making and serving menemen (a Turkish breakfast dish of scrambled eggs with tomatoes)
Would you like a small sac? (about 25 cm in diameter)
Something larger? (about 1 m in diameter)
Spoons, wooden and metal, of all shapes and sizes
Trays for proudly displaying kebabs and pilafs
and serving bowls to impress your friends
There’s absolutely no reason not to look stylish while shopping, and this stall specialises in Ray Ban no less!
Wicker baskets and sun and insect protectors
Not featured here but also available: mangals (Turkish barbecues), cezves (Turkish coffee pots) pots and pans of all shapes and sizes. For a guide on these and other Turkish utensils, head to Olga’s Delicious Istanbul blog. I’m certainly coming back to this market for that sahan above, which I foolishly did not buy when I had the chance.
If you are tired of shopping, have some freshly squeezed orange or pomegranate juice (also available all over Istanbul)
I told you I came to this part of town for the mosque and the pide, so let me tell you about them, too.
Rüstem Paşa Camii
Address: Rüstem Paşa Mh, Hasircilar Carsisi | Eminonu, Istanbul, Turkey. Map.
The entrance into the mosque leads up the steps from the main market thoroughfare. Upstairs, a different kind of world. Peaceful, and beautiful in a different kind of way. Famous for its exquisite blue İznik tiles with beautiful floral and geometric designs, the mosque was designed by the famous architect Mimar Sinan for Grand Vizier Rüstem Pasha (husband of Mihrimah, one of the daughters of Suleiman the Magnificent, and originally from Skradin in Croatia), and completed in 1563. The mosque was built on a terrace over a complex of shops, whose rents were intended to provide funds for the mosque complex. It was, and still is, strongly linked to the shops below it.
I was there pretty much on my own, in huge contrast to other Istanbul attractions which are constantly full of visitors. For some more photos and thoughts about the mosque, go to Jenny’s blog, A Taste of Travel.
Mavi Halic Pidecisi
Address: Mavi Halic Pidecisi, Kutucular Caddesi. No. 28, Eminönü, Istanbul.
I wrote about this delicious lunch in my previous blog on eating Istanbul, so I won’t repeat myself here. Here are just a couple of more photos of the tasty pide. Below you can see them at different stages of shaping. The pide were left for the dough to relax in between stages; this makes them keep their shape better, as well as making them easier to work with. If you’ve worked with a pizza dough, you’ll know what I mean.
A short story for the end, on photography and life
Photographing the pide shop, I was waiting for the street to clear a little so that I an take the shot, when I noticed in the corner of the viewfinder this chappy looking at me and smiling!
I moved the camera away from my face and smiled back, gesturing to ask for his permission to take a photo of him. He nodded, and smiled some more. I quickly recomposed, and pressed the shutter. I managed to take the photo below before he left to join his buddies ahead.
It all happened so quickly, and this is not one my best photos at all, but it’s one of my favourites, because of that moment of warmth shared and exchanged. All due to my camera, and his friendliness, of course.
I love the way people react to the camera sometimes. It helps me connect. This has happened before, and every time it does, it makes me happy.
How to get to the market
Start from in front of the Spice Market and the Hamdi restaurant, and walk away from the market into the small warren of streets around Hasırcılar Caddesi which leads into Kutucular Caddesi.