Sometimes the simplest things are the best. One of the best snacks in Istanbul has to be the humble simit; a ring of bread which is doughy on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and coated in deliciously roasted sesame seeds.
This is a popular and quick breakfast, which is often eaten with cheese, olives, tomatoes, or simply sade, plain. Turks munch on simits all day long â€“ they are a cheap, fast and filling snack. School children eat them as they walk home from school, business men grab them on their way to the bank, and shopkeepers have them delivered for a mid-afternoon snack. Like almost everything in Turkey, simit goes well with Ã§ay, sweet, strong tea. A favourite pastime of Istanbullites is to eat simit and drink Ã§ay on the ferries which cross the Bosphorus. Whether you are heading to work, or simply crossing continents to do some sightseeing, there is nothing better than to sit outside, breathe in the fresh Bosphorus air, sip steaming hot tea and enjoy a freshly-baked simit â€“ half for you, and half for the seagulls following massive boat.
Everyone in Istanbul has their favourite Simitci, simit man. Men wander the streets all day, with a massive tray of fresh simit on their heads, announcing their presence with the famous cry “simitci simitci simitci!” in their easily recognizable deep voice. All you need to do is make eye contact, or even hang a basket from your apartment window, and a simit is yours, usually for only 75 kurus. My favourite simitci frequents the streets around Kadikoy. He is a well rounded fellow, most likely as a result of a simit diet, and he has a particularly aggressive manner. I don’t understand much Turkish, but I get the impression he shouts “Buy my simit or die,” or “Sister, why don’t you buy my simit? Doesn’t it look good enough for you? My simit are the best!” He is always the first to sell his tray of simit, and has a regular following, even if it is only out of fear.
Simit stands are on every street corner. Generally a small structure, painted with blue and white stripes, being a Simitci is a good profession in Istanbul, and they are never short of customers. Queues can continue around the corner, especially when fresh, hot batch has been delivered. At these stands, you can buy small portions of cheese or nutella to go with your simit, and ayran, the salty yoghurt drink, to wash it down with. Simit is a simple pleasure. When you go to Istanbul, make sure to try a few, find your favourite Simitci and enjoy the delicious crispy pastry with a steaming hot Turkish Ã§ay â€“ you won’t be disappointed.