Turks love their open-air markets

Every town in Turkey has their own pazar, big or small where fresh is on the counter

  • Aug. 12, 2015 10:00 a.m.

Every Turkish town has a pazar

I have the good fortune to know some Turks who love to travel and share their culture. Each trip has afforded new sights and delightful cultural differences. Snippets from Turkey are just a few of my observations from this amazing historical world that tries to blend modernity with tradition.

Pazars are like our farmer’s market. They can be small with a cluster of several producers trying to peddle their treasures or they can be massive and cover many city blocks. I have seen pazars or pazar shelters in every town I have visited. They are a fact of life in Turkey and they fit the small business model well.

The first market I visited was within the castle walls in Sigacik, west of Izmir. Most of the towns have castles in various states of disrepair but the people of Sigacik have put their stone walls to good use. Many stalls have become permanent in this pazar and there is a wonderful variety of fresh and dried food as well as local handiwork. Pazars in Kusadasi happened nearly every day of the week during summer. I knew of a little one that was set up at the base of an apartment complex. These sellers know of the large customer base to service and they were busy from set up to tear down. I could get fresh bread, the veggies and fruit I wanted and delicious juice. When I wanted more, every Friday and Saturday, a huge pazar took over the streets of six city blocks.  Sites were mapped out and trucks loaded with goods would move in on Thursday night.  Giant umbrellas shaded watermelons while tarps and awnings protected fish and spices from the rain. A farmer might set up on the sidewalk or sell from the back of his truck. The pazar was a family affair and all ages would participate in the selling. Since the market was set up on city streets, the businesses on those streets claim their sidewalk area and move their goods out of doors.

You can buy clothing including underwear and socks, household goods, building supplies, fresh milk or other dairy products, fish of all kinds, wonderful spices, nuts and seeds by the bagful, any kind of melon, five kinds of grapes and all the fruits Turkey produces with figs that are an addictive kind of candy. There are peppers of every kind from the mild to the very hot.  There are vegetables and fruits I have never seen before, like the ayva. There are beautifully arranged piles of eggplant next to tons of olives. The cantaloupe seller readily sliced up melons and handed out juicy pieces.

Last time, while on a trip to visit several ancient sites, the tour stopped at a pazar in Soke. This is a tiny town on the edge of a massive valley in which cotton grows well, along with many other foods.

This market was quaint for the characters there and they delighted in the few foreigners who stopped by to bargain.

During this most recent trip, since only a few fruits and vegetables are ready, the markets are small but can be found just about anywhere.

The giant shelters are now being used as parking garages or impromptu work space but come later spring, they will fill with wonderfully fresh foods and goods.

Turks, like the people of Quesnel, well know how to support local farmers and enjoy the bounty we all are so fortunate to share.

– submitted by Liz-Ann Eyford

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