There you are at last, stretched out under a sun umbrella, the sea a dazzling blue in front of you, a cloudless sky above, and what is your heart’s desire? Seems to me it would surely be something like a choc ice or vanilla wafer with a Cadbury’s Flake stuck into it. Hot dog? Smoothie?
But surely never, never, mussels stuffed with rice!! Yet this is a staple of the Turkish beach crowd: midye dolma. Literally mussels back in their shells surrounded by a tasty rice filling sold singly or however many you want. They come with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and as in this picture, a paper napkin too!
When you are on a Turkish beach, you will see these guys flogging up and down in the heat selling their wares displayed on trays which they carry on their heads. Believe me, there is a receptive audience. The mussels will be prepared in private homes and over time, these will acquire a reputation for being both tasty and for being prepared under hygienic conditions.
|a midyeci posing with his tray of stuffed mussels|
After the midyeci, we have the mısırcı, the corn-on-the-cob vendor who pushes his little cart. In this area, the beaches are very stony so he has a hard time of it and I feel quite sorry for him. He doesn’t of course grill his corn but this time boils it. I’m not sure how hygienic this is but he manages to sell a lot. Corn is always popular.
|a mısırcı on Kadırga Beach, Assos|
And the third seller in this beach scenario is the simitçi. He performs a balancing act with his tray of round simit on his head. When he spies a potential group of buyers, he opens up his trestle legs and rests his tray on top of it. Simit are delicious: not sweet but more in the bread category and are amongst every Turk’s favourite foods. They are sprinkled with pre-toasted sesame seeds which adhere to the pekmez or grape molasses in which the pastry is briefly dipped before baking. Usually eaten for breakfast instead of bread with jam or cheese, or in the late afternoon traditionally with kaşar peynir/kaşar cheese and çay or Turkish tea.
|a simitçi on the same beach, same afternoon|
I shouldn’t forget to say that when you are on a Turkish beach, as the sun’s rays start to lengthen, and everybody is feeling mellow after a day at the seaside, best of all, çay is brought round – a very civilized custom - and everyone chats with everyone else.