In Turkey we love eating pickled vegetables especially during winter time. With grilled fish, bulgur pilaf, soup, bean or chickpeas stew, as well as any other hearty meal, giving them a little zest. Most of the households love making their own pickles, everyone have their not-to-share recipes, at the end of the day, it is matter of pride, like every food related issue in Turkey. My grandmother used to make the best pickles I ever tasted in my whole life, after she passed away I started making my own but is never the same and never will be. Pickling is an art, a balance, a preservation as well as a winter preparation.
Saying that, I did my own share this year. I pickled chili peppers, okra, cucumbers of sorts, green tomatoes with scented leaf geranium, peppers, green lemons, raw medlar… The only one left is the cabbage, but I always prefer it buying from Özcan Turşuları at Kadıköy, like the rest of them if I have not pickled that year.
One step in and you are surrounded by the sharp garlicky pickle scent, a display full of remedy, a sight for sore eyes. You can find pickled vegetables of every kind, beet, sorts of peppers, tomatoes, kelek-unripe melon-, carrots, garlic bulbs, cabbage, cucumbers, gherkins, snake cucumbers, stuffed aubergines, cabbage rolls, plums, green beans, even cranberries…
It is a ritual known by us all locals, to stand there in front of the display, taste the pickles you have being offered, pay your compliments and when is your turn, you tell the pickle Usta your preferences. Something like; little bit of cabbage, lemon cured cucumbers, chili peppers, carrots, garlic bulbs, your choice of juice -spicy or not, then you watch Usta prepares them for you.
In a matter of minutes you have a big fat pouch full of pickles. Then you make your stops at your fish monger, your baker, your greengrocer, have a sip of Turkish coffee and hop on dolmuş, hit home! Cranberry & plum pickles make perfect cocktail tidbits, and the pickle juice a perfect dirty martini!