A consideration of Turkish junk food…is that an oxymoron?

Leblebi a.k.a. roasted chick peas - a favorite of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk's, apparently, along with M.

My recent foray into the world of leblebi (roasted chick peas, Ataturk’s favorite), salted pumpkin seeds, potato chips and rose hips for road trips  got me to thinking about junk food in general here – what do Turks consider junk food?  Well, I know M. thinks that garlicky eggplant is Turkish junk food.  I think it is his favorite – as you can read more about here – along with our homestyle recipe.


Well, we already know about leblebi, salted baked pumpkin seeds – and the amazingly plentiful offerings of Lay’s potato chips all over Turkey, which, while flavored in the most Turkish of ways, I still find capitalistically depressing in this globalized era.  Here are some of the other types of junk foods I find, for whatever reason, most intriguing.


…Not meant to be comprehensive, just what has captured my attention…

Tip of the grapevine - who knew?

Moving beyond Lay’s, M. tells me of his friend P. from Bozcaada, who is always eager to venture away from our patio towards the Aegean – and the vineyard in between.  In the vineyard, he collects the tips of grape vines.  M. explains to me that this is sort of like a treat/snack – the sour-sweet ends of the tendrils of the grapes at the tip. He tells me that P. brings home armfuls from the fields to the village whenever he can.  I make a mental note to try this once we get to Bozcaada.




Other junk food-ish looking things I have seen around being consumed en masse are often found in “bufes” as far as I can see.  Bufes, think ‘buffets’ are sort of like a New York City bodega with some cooked food available.  I often see young, hungry men grabbing a couple of orders to tost (yes, half a loaf of toasted wheat bread) with peynir (“peyneer” white cheese) way in between meals.




Sometimes tost involves some sucuk (“sujuhk” a very fatty and garlicky sausage that is cooked split open).  A more detailed description can be found here, written by the folks at the Zesty Moments blog.  You can also check out a slide show on Turkish fast food here.

A bufe - or Turkish fast food joint

Red-pepper-infused simit from a street vendor in Antakya/Hatay - delicious!

Now, I will take you to the simit snack I saw in Hatay/Antakya.  While there are scads of posts around the Interwebs about simit, that toothsome sesame pastry for teatime, I really, really like the Hatay version (near the Syria border, where the refugee camps are right now housing thousands of people fleeing from the force of their government and where violence continues).  But the topic of the day is light, to give us some respite from the ills of the world outside our windows, that’s Microsoft Windows, for me.  Back to simit – here is the Antakya/Hatay version – with lots of pul biber (a.k.a. Aleppo pepper).  Clearly, the southern influence is present – hot, hot, hot!

SU BÖREĞİ!!! A mouth-wateringly delicious savory pastry - order it online if you live in Istanbul https://borekonline.com/

I will end by addressing börek – or more specifically peynirli su böreği, which I am in love with and cannot live with out.  This is MY favorite Turkish junk food – as well as my favorite, breakfast, lunch or dinner.   My friend has recently launched an online company for börek deliver in Istanbul – and I am certain it will take off with flying colors.  If she started the company here, my bikini-wearing days would be in significant jeopardy.  Her company is borekonline – check it out, Istanbullus. I should add that she does not know that I am posting this, so this is not an “asked for” link or sponsored link.

As an American who is conscious about her eating – if this representation of Turkish food is considered junk food, then I am in heaven!

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7 Responses to A consideration of Turkish junk food…is that an oxymoron?

  1. the range of Turkish ‘fast food’ available 24/7/365 is so good and so wide that it never occurs to J and me to bother with the ‘Western’ stuff. Wherever you are, in city, town, village, open road there will be small, family run affairs that are open all hours serving some brilliant, often regional/local dishes. ‘Çok güzel’ I say. As for McCrap – ‘Çok bok!’ 😀

  2. Pingback: Of cigars, ironing and true colors | Slowly-by-Slowly

  3. Pingback: 2011 Interlude: From hairy black radishes to sweet apples and the power of childhood memories | Slowly-by-Slowly

  4. I love LOVE Turkish food (been there twice, which is not nearly enough) and so this was a great trip down gustatory memory lane! Nice photos, too … and your niece is awesome!

    Thanks for sharing .. and for visiting Heifer 12 x 12!! (I have to remember to write more about food!)

  5. Liz Cameron says:

    Merhaba Betty – I am so glad that you found the site – and happy to facilitate your gustatory trip down memory lane! Thanks for the compliments and indeed, Sofia is totally amazing. I am excited to follow your 12×12 adventures!!!

  6. Rosamond says:

    Dont even mention sunflower seeds!!!! I hate them especially if i have to do the cleaning up lol .Paynir tost and roasted chickpeas are great junk food though.
    I just love Turkey……we had a holiday home in Alanya for 14 years. I truely miss the time i spent there even though i still go back once a year 😦

  7. carinaragno says:

    SU BÖREĞ looks so delicious 🙂

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