On October 6, 2013, I spent a good part of the week in Gaziantep, a city of about 1.8 million, located not too far from the Syrian border.
I walked in the old city market, full of tin spice grinders; dried red peppers on a string (looking like enormous cranberry garlands we hang on Christmas trees); hand carved wooden brushes; and ubiquitous cheap Chinese plastic goods. Turkey was on the Silk road, and today there are still barrels and barrels of whole and ground spices, many of which I’ve never seen before.
Alauddevie Came (Mosque) under Construction
The city is renowned for having the best Baklava in the country (that dessert with a crispy pastry top, a gooey honey base, topped off with a delicate dusting of green pistachio powder), so of course, it was my duty to have at least one per day. Then every day, I had minced meat, flat bread, and my fill of peppers, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Though the food is simple and always good, I could easily tire of the repetitious ingredients here.
Who ever thought that a mosaic museum would be interesting? But it really was. During excavations in 2000, archeologists uncovered amazing mosaics in the city of Zap that lined the floors of pools, hamams (spas), churches and courtyards in Roman and Late Antique Periods. They carefully excavated them, working around the large missing pieces stolen by looters, and brought them out for public display. With a strange feeling of cognitive dissonance, I suddenly finally understood what my history teacher told me all those years ago: the Romans had more lavish lifestyles than most people today. People in Gaziantep living in half-built cement houses on dusty sand floors, with spotting access to water or a good sewage system.
Finishing the day with tea in the open-air courtyard of Tutun Hani