There are no designer rip offs, no flirtatious market boys (“Got some luverly plums for you Lady!”), no cries of “Cheap as chips”, no prices in Euros – there are just a few simple stalls, the sound of the wind in the pines and the sight of simple products proudly laid out. This is Kirazli’s organic farmers market that takes place under the pines in the village square every Sunday. I think it is the only organic farmers market in the whole of Turkey and it is run by the ladies of the village co-operative.
There are only a few stalls and it’s patronised mainly by visitors in the know from Kusadasi who come up for a traditional Sunday morning breakfast in the village. Very few tourists know about it, which is fine, but it would be nice if the hard work of those families in the village that have made a commitment to organic farming, self sufficiency and bio diversity made a few more lira from their hard work.
The produce is wonderful, all of it is local, from within a mile of where it is sold, all of it is organic and all of it is made by hand and labelled (normally quite rustically!) under the Küplüce trademark which the village has taken as the trade name for its organic produce.
Küplüce was the old name for Kirazli, the original name back when this was a mixed Greek/Turkish village, happily ignoring politics and herding goats and growing grapes. The village didn’t become Kirazli until 1954 when the name was changed at the time the local mosque was renovated. A lot of the older village ladies remember it as Küplüce and are happy to sell their wares under the traditional name of their birthplace.
Considering that there are normally fewer than ten stalls in the market the range of products is amazing. From home made jams, preserves and pretty bottled fruit to painstakingly extracted fruit juice and nut oils, dried fruits and vegetables, wonderfully decorative dried sunflower heads and garlands of mushrooms and peppers.
You can also get home baked bread, home made manta and village made pasta – and boy does that take some work! No pasta making machines here, the dough is rolled by hand, laminated by hand, cut by hand and dried on the terraces and roofs all over the village. You’ll also find herbal and fruit teas to heal and refresh and some amazing fruit vinegars which will do wonders for even the most basic salad dressing. The handmade olive oil soap is 100% natural and comes in generous rustic bricks, it is fantastic for your skin and I’ve used it for years as I am allergic to normal soap.
Obviously everything is seasonal, so what I bought today won’t be available in a few weeks – get your walnuts whilst you can! – but the every changing variety of produce is the joy of a farmer’s market and what we decide to make with seasonal produce is one of the wonderful challenges of cookery.
The only thing you are guaranteed to get all year round, apart from a delighted smile and a warm welcome, is the pale golden village olive oil. I’m not a connoisseur of olive oil, but I’ve been around the olive growing countries long enough to know good oil when I see smell and taste it, and this oil is exceptional. For such a pale oil it has an amazing depth of flavour; the taste just goes on and on and with fresh baked bread or drizzled over a salad it is amazing.
Right now Küplüce organic products are only available from the village, either at the Sunday farmer’s market or every other day from the Koy Sofrasi restaurant at the end of the village. If anyone overseas wants to try any of the products just drop me a message and I’ll see what I can do about shipping you some – the oils, spices, fruit vinegars and vacuum packed organic cherries would make fantastic gifts for foodies and the dried sunflower heads, olive oil soaps and bunches of dried herbs would suit anyone with an interior design flair.
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