All | Bizzarre | Roads Lead to The / Pazar

Sunday (Pazar) –  A day to drive recklessly, sit next to the sea, invite yourself into people’s homes, and take notice of the explosive miracles in nature.

I spent several hours today meandering through the Üçkuyular Pazaryeri, one of Izmir’s most bountiful and authentic Sunday markets, taking in the organic beauty.

From color to composition, this weekly wonderland exemplifies the seasonality and vulnerability of our Earth’s offerings and the Aegean region’s current deliverance.

Everything from the tomatoes that bled the influence of the Mediterranean sun, to the dozens of varieties of pink and green and orange olives, to the flowering zucchinis and striped eggplants, made me overwhelmingly appreciative to live in a place dependent on organic seasonality; one that doesn’t distinguish between chemical and organic because that distinction simply doesn’t exist.

I’m incredibly inspired to take advantage of this accessibility and I promise that a Turkish recipe collection is in the works.

For now, here are some snaps of what contributed to this absolutely blissful Seasonal Sunday.

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An invite to run through rows of flowers.

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Yeşıl + Pembe / Beans Abound
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All-Of You Are Coming Home With Me
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Izmir is to Figs what Bordeaux is to Wine


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Egg crates proved highly practical
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Izmir’s take on an agricultural sea cucumber
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The chickpea roaster – One of Turkey’s most distinctive images

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For less than $20 USD, I brought home a dozen eggs, 300 grams of the most beautiful beyaz peynir – white cheese – half a kilo of three varieties of olives, bread baked in a local village, pomegranates, eggplants, plums, tomatoes, cashews, and so on .. Needless to say, dinner parties at mine every day this week.

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Hardly Ripe and Already Rotten

Throughout the eighteen days I’ve been in Izmir, I felt much like this fig:

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Stuck between the seasons. Debatable. The last one hanging. Awaiting things around me to come to fruit-ion.

As a believer in the initial feeling, in love at first sight, in premonitions and fatemy lack of initial emotions towards Izmir had left me feeling platonic, plain, and frankly, bored.

Much like this fig, I arrived to this city ripe and ready to be picked; I was fixated on the idea that, like Istanbul, Izmir would harness my heart and the harvest would be plentiful.  Turkey was, afterall, my first love, so I expected the same chemistry and fireworks and affection that had been both instantaneous and hard won four years before.

But at first glance, Izmir didn’t make my heart beat. Instead, she was like an early morning stroll that strengthens your pulse and steadies your breath, rather than taking it away. Lovely and innocent. Easy to approach.

Easy to approach. Light. 

Somewhere within her lightness – the breathtaking sunrises on the Aegean Sea, the glow of the sun on tanned skin and bare shoulders, and the permeating aromas of freshly caught fish and citrus trees – my senses began opening up to Turkey’s most liberal city. And she, in turn, has begun opening up to me.

Yesterday we had a conversation in a pomegranate grove and she told me about the fifteen days leading up to the harvest.

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Then she held my hand through a mountainside village …

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And together we sauntered past olive trees, grape vines, sheep farms, and bee hives.

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And after an hour-and-a-half, our eyes finally fell onto this spectacular view of the Balcova Mountains.

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As the seasons begin to change and summer offers us her last batch of figs, I’m reminded to meet fall with no expectations; to find excitement in the stark differences and comfort in the subtle similarities that remind me why Turkey was, and always will be, my first love.

Sure, Izmir doesn’t strut like Istanbul, but she strolls softly in a way, that on day nineteen, seduces and intrigues me more than ever.

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