November Seasonal Foods – Selcuk Market

Selcuk market was quiet today; the majority of people are clearly shopped out after the excesses of Bayram. Even the butcher was quiet, the freezer was nearly empty and there was no need to employ sharp elbows and village Turkish to get your order taken.

On the fruit and vegetable stalls beetroot are still in season but mushrooms were the theme of the market with stalls and stalls of various fungi. Most were priced around 5tl a kilo so I got half a kilo of delicate oyster mushrooms and half a kilo of button mushrooms. I can’t bring myself to buy the pale brown oyster variety patched with mold but they are clearly considered a delicacy by many and were flying off the stalls.

The cauliflowers and cabbages are fully in season now and you have to really search to find a small one, most are the size of a family hatchback and making cauliflower cheese would need a vat of béchamel sauce and a forklift to manoeuvre the whole thing into the oven. I’m still eating the one I bought last week so I passed on cauli’s this week.

New on the market this week and at a fantastic price of 1.50tl a kilo are Sharon Fruit, a variety of Persimmon. True persimmon’s can take the enamel off your teeth if you don’t eat them at the exact second of maximum ripeness, just before they collapse into mush, but Sharon Fruit is more forgiving and just as nice. I mainly use it in fruit salads but it can also be added to rich meat casseroles, and one will be going into the goat tagine I’m making tomorrow along with pomegranate and figs.

The olives are amazing value at the moment, ranging from 4tl a kilo to 9tl. I don’t have the expertise or palate to know what is “best” so I just go for what I like. At this time of year they also have the olives stuffed with chilli peppers or almonds, but none stuffed with garlic unfortunately.

Also new to the market the last few weeks are a couple of suppliers of live animals. Unlike the stockades of sheep and goats ready for Kurban Bayram last week these animals are for breeding not eating. From sturdy and lush plumaged chickens to eager and rushing quail these animals are bought for what they can supply long term in the way of eggs. None of them will be heading to the pot any time soon.

Pickling supplies are everywhere, and so are ready made pickles, from punchy pale yellow peppers to medleys of cauliflower and cucumber in a variety of vinegars. We are definitely at the height of pickling season.

Some of my favourite stall holders were missing this week; my regular plant man wasn’t in evidence so I got pansies from his rival – 15 healthy plants with pretty faces for 6tl. Most people try to spend Bayram with their families and with a nine day holiday this year many have stretched it to the maximum and are travelling back home this weekend. Everyone heads back to work on Monday after the long holiday so next week we’ll be back to the usual bustling market we’ve come to know so well.