Greetings from Turkey! Looks like I’m Junta’s continent-straddling correspondent, and I’ll be bringing you what Turkish cuisine I can fit intothese posts. For starters, this post is about anchovies (stay with me…). In Turkey, anchovies are called Hamsi (pronounced HAHM-see); veteran Food Junta blogger Wills and I made hamsi in Turkey, and we think you should too, anywhere — you’re in for easy cooking and simple, finger-licking eating. Sure, most Turkish dishes meld concoctions of stews and spices, and I hope to post abbreviated, Food-Junta-ish versions of these dishes in the coming months. But for now, hamsi, laden onto a plate, thrust onto a crowded table, will bring plenty of crunchy, fishy pleasure.
Our hamsi came from the styrofoam bin of an Istanbul fish market stall — they were caught that day, and still glistened with brackish water from the Marmara Sea. We were also excited that we walked across Istanbul’s Golden Horn at sunset, Süleymaniye Mosque, casting silhouetted dreams against the evening sky, to find the fish market, and that the Turkish fish-selling man charges us about four bucks a kilogram. How great that this went on, in the same place, two, three, five hundred years ago. And, unlike the endless and titillating experimentation of American cuisine, hamsi and most other Turkish food hasn’t changed.