What Food Souveniers should I bring back from Istanbul?
Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi makes a nice Turkish coffee gift set with a copper coffee pot, coffee and small Turkish coffee cups with their label on it (designed by a very important early Republican era graphic designer). it's located behind the Egyptian Bazaar in Eminonu. its easy to find but here's their link:
you can also wander from eminonu through the very atmospheric market streets of kucukpazari to the ottoman era candy shop Altan Sekerleme for a box of Turkish delight. the experience itself is well worth it. this is one of the few Ottoman era shops that have not been spoiled by poor renovations. here is a review of the place with the address:
- Saffron - the good stuff, not the crap they sell in the big bins at the Spice Bazaar. You'll want the small plastic containers of Iranian saffron. Some dealers will have better prices than others so shop around.
- Fabulous dried fruit including gigantic raisins (they have a special name which escapes me right now).
- Double roasted pistachios.
- Pomegranate molasses (beautiful and fresh) or grape molasses (also forget the name in Turkish but it's delicious)
- Spice mixes are nice if you like that kind of thing: chicken spice mix, kebob spice mix, etc.
- Lovely handmade kebab skewers. I found these in the small winding streets adjacent to the spice bazaar.
- Lots of gorgeous pottery. Pay more for better quality, though.
Just a help to remind names
-Dried raisins: Kuru uzum
-Pistachio: fistik (Antep fistigi: pistachio from the city Antep)
-Pomegranate molasses: Nar pekmezi (mostly to dress salads for sour taste)
-Grape molasses: uzum pekmezi (very sweety, almost Anatolian equivalent of maple syrup)
-Molases: Pekmez (can be made of mullberry, locust, grapes, pomegranate)
I brought home a couple of kilos of Turkish Delight candy, now devoured by friends, and received rave reviews for it. I packed the candy in my checked luggage and there were no Customs issues. Here's a link to a photo of the candy store I learned about by reading the Istanbul Eats website:
I'd intended to bring back some spice grinders but found the quality of almost all I saw to be no better than I can get here at home, and I think what I can get at home are better. Now, had I traveled outside of Istanbul, or known the "inside secrets" where to purchase better quality ones I probably would have done that.
Many people bring back spices they find difficult to locate at home.
Whater foodstuffs you bring back to the USA (assuming it's the USA you're returning to) should be declared on the Customs form (including candy, as "Food").