This is one of my favorite food traditions in Turkey. Restaurants called mehanes are dedicated to rakı, the anise flavored liqueur similar to a Greek ouzo and the many wonderful foods it is paired with. I never thought I would acquire a taste for this black-liquorish flavor but it happened when accompanied with the right food and right company on a warm night. It flows well with the food but be careful because it will hit you hard! It is usually served in those tall thin glasses paired with a water. The alcohol itself is clear and becomes cloudy when water or ice is added. This is one of the few drinks that always seem to take ice in Turkey(the ice situation is another entry). The above course starts with sweet luscious melon and white feta-like cheese, eaten together then followed with a sip of rakı, amazing!
Another reason I love eating at this type of restaurant is the mezes, the tapas style small plates. You share with everyone and get little tastes of things like(forgive me I don't know all their Turkish names yet) eggplant salad, seaweed, spiced yogurt, white beans, spinach, roasted red peppers, okra and much more. All prepared simply but delicious.
This night we were enjoying the balık pazaar, a side street off Taksim's beyoğlu in Istanbul famous for its mehanes trying to keyhole you into their establishment. Especially on a warm night the streets are bursting with life. Sit outside and the people watching is just as good as the food.
There is a huge variety of fish to choose from since Turkey is surrounded by three bodies of water; Black, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. This night we had one of my small favorites, hamsı from the sardine family. (Trinea- I remember this photo was taken for you since you "love" fish with the bones in and head on...he he...come visit soon!)