Street Flavors of Izmir
Here are 10 famous flavors you can buy from street vendors in Izmir.
1. Gevrek (Izmir’s Bagel)
Another wonderful taste of Izmir is gevrek. Often mistaken with simit, the Turkish bagel, it’s a slightly different flavor.
Gevrek was brought by Tatars who migrated from Crimea to Izmir 450 years ago. Nowadays it is offered in larger sizes and with different ingredients compared to its counterparts baked at that time.
The main difference between gevrek and simit is the baking process.
Simit is baked after molasses and sesame seeds are poured on it. Gevrek, on the other hand, first dipped in a bowl filled with hot molasses and fried for a short time. The sesame seeds are poured on it and before it's baked. This process makes gevrek to have a crispier form and taste than simit.
Izmir’s boyoz, which has a history of almost 500 years, is a registered trademark since 2017.
It's made by baking round pieces of dough which consist of wheat flour, water, and salt. Boyoz is an indispensable food in Izmir, especially at breakfast.
Bakeries in Alsancak are the most famous when it comes to boyoz. Other than the regular plain boyoz, here you can also find boyoz with leek, eggplant, artichoke, cheese, herbs, and even tahini, which you can eat for dessert.
Even though you're not planning to go to Alsancak, don't worry, you can find boyoz from street vendors on every corner of Izmir.
3. Kumru Sandwich
Kumru, whose history dates back to 150 years ago and was registered as Izmir Kumrusu by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism in 2017, is a sandwich prepared with Izmir tulum cheese, cheddar, tomato, pepper, sausage and salami in a special bread. The bread, which is usually made from chickpea yeast, is named after this sandwich because it resembles a dove bird (Kumru means dove bird in Turkish) thanks to its shape, which is large in the middle and thin on the tip.
Izmirians absolutely love kumru and eat it anytime - for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even as a snack!
Kokorec is a Turkish dish made of seasoned, skewered lamb intestines. You can see vendors selling kokorec every hour of the day, especially at night, in Izmir. But the kokorec you will eat in Izmir will be a little different.
Unlike the finely chopped kokorec with tomatoes, which are put on bread with a spoon, cooked on a plate or in a pan, Izmir kokorec has a larger slice. All kokorec cooked on charcoal is prepared by cutting it in bread with a knife, pouring cumin on it, and scattering like a Turkish delight in the mouth.
You can find the freshest mussels in Izmir, as in almost every city with a coastline. The difference of the city's mussels from the others is that they are smaller and served cold. Also, they do not contain cinnamon, currants, and pine nuts. The people of Izmir eat mussels only by adding black pepper. Since mussels are not made with well-cooked rice, their meat is also fresh.
If you like offal, another street flavor you should definitely taste in Izmir is sogus. While the sogus is being prepared, parts of the head such as the tongue, cheeks, and brain are cut into small pieces and then wrapped with lavash. Optionally, add lots of cumin, chili peppers, parsley, tomatoes, and onions. Offal is eaten cooked but cold.
You can find the most delicious sogus in almost every corner of Izmir, especially in Tilkilik, Hisar, and Bostanlı.
Lokma is a small, round, and syrupy friedcake and it’s the most famous dessert of Izmir. It is prepared by pouring sherbet on the pieces of dough fried on the fire. While walking on the streets of Izmir, it is possible to eat this delicious and practical dessert for free in the small stalls set up for charity.
8. Torpil (Torpedo)
Torpil is a cone-shaped dessert with custard inside, which looks like it's snowed on, that you can find in almost every bakery in Izmir.
People of Izmir also call it a cone cake, as it is prepared by putting cream into a dough similar to the molasses and sprinkling powdered sugar on it. Do not forget to dip the open part of the dessert in hazelnuts or pistachios before tasting it.
9. Shambali (Damascus Cake)
Shambali, a.k.a. Damascus cake, is another famous flavor of Izmir, sold by street vendors wrapped in wax papers.
Shambali is made with semolina. There is also no egg, flour, and oil in this dessert. You can put peanuts, hazelnuts, or almonds on the shambali if you wish. Apart from street vendors, you can also visit Karşıyaka Hisarönü for a delicious shambali.
10. Subye Sherbet
Subye, a 500-year-old thick and sweet drink from Sephardic cuisine, is made with crushed melon seeds. It is one of the street delicacies of Izmir that has started to disappear but you can still find it.
The melon seeds dried one year earlier are turned into a paste and drained with a little water. This sherbet contains high amounts of vitamin A and potassium. This refreshing drink with melon scent is served with ice in summer
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