An exceptional market fair has been held in Kadıköy over the weekend to support artisans and vendors from Kahramanmaraş, which is one of the 10 provinces hit hardest by the twin earthquakes that rattled Türkiye in February. The “Kahramanmaraş Dayanışma Pazarı” (Kahramanmaraş Solidarity Market) was taking place in Festival Park, which is located next to the IDO Seabus station in Kadıköy’s Rıhtım, from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and will end on Monday, May 8.
This unique open-air market fair, consisting of dozens of stands, is being held to support earthquake victims, who are understandably suffering financially and unable to run their businesses as usual. But for those in Istanbul, this is a unique opportunity to purchase a wide array of items and products from a specific region known as the birthplace of several specialties, including the Maraş ice cream.
Ice cream, walnuts, peppers
For foreigners, the word Maraş may seem familiar, as while it is a shortened version of the province’s name it is also the name given to the famous ice cream that hails from the region. Maraş ice cream is the type that vendors with huge copper cases will play tricks with customers using long copper stick-shaped ice cream scoopers that they will then use to playfully tease their patrons by twisting and turning around and even snatching back a scoop of ice cream from the very cone that was intended to serve. They are able to do this because of the ice cream’s strong elasticity, which is derived from the stirring and battering process of ingredients that include goat’s milk, mastic and orchid root, otherwise known as in Turkish “salep.” Referred to as Kahramanmaraş Dövme Dondurması, this type of ice cream is also known for being solid enough to be cut into portions with a knife.
Sumac sauce, cookies for battles, pistachio paste and tarhana chips
You may be surprised to learn that Kahramanmaraş has several trademarked and patented products from the region. Some of the regional items you can expect to find at this market will be Maraş’s pistachio paste, ground pistachio nuts shaped into what resembles a chocolate bar, in which little rectangular pieces can be broken off. In addition, the region’s Maraş Çöreği, which is a semolina and yogurt-based cookie that was prepared during the Ottoman era for soldiers to consume on their battle campaigns but is now prepared on holidays, will also be available to try, besides Andırın Tirşiği, which is the province’s signature soup that stands out for its fermentation process and preparation with wild greens, yogurt, chickpeas and cracked wheat.
Sumak Ekşisi is a sour sumac sauce similar to pomegranate sourness many will be more familiar with, and is also a specialty that hails from the region. Çağlayancerit Cevizi is a more extensive and softer walnut that comes from the neighborhood and derives its name from, while the purplish-colored garlic from Afşin Koçovası is one of the best in Türkiye and known for its thick skins keeping it fresh throughout the winter. Maraş Biber, the pepper used to make the best chili powder and flakes in Türkiye, is understandably one of the region’s most well-known products. Maraş is also famous for its Tarhana, the powdered soup or spice mix, considered the world’s first condensed soup. In Maraş, in addition to being prepared as soup, the Tarhana mixture also stands on its own as a snack to nibble at, to be added as flavoring to stews and meat dishes. It is even fried into shapes that resemble potato chips.
Leather shoes, knives, embroidery
The region, famed for its culinary dishes, has produced many unique accessories such as the Kahramanmaraş Yemenişi: A handmade shoe. They consist of different kinds of leather for each shoe section, colored with natural dyes and sewn with cotton thread. These characteristic shoes stand out for their elevated pointed tips and for being identical in that they don’t tend to have a “right” or “left” shoe and thus can be worn interchangeably.
Maraş is known for its intricate handicrafts, including a traditional carved walnut chest specific to the region. Known for its walnuts, it should come as no surprise that walnut wood is used to create these hand-carved chests that are typically a meter wide and decorated entirely with elegant motifs. Meanwhile, Maraş is also known for having some of the most prevalent coppersmiths to this day. For example, many of the copper items found in the Grand Bazaar come from this region.
Yet another practical specialty from the region is its Hartlap Bıçağı, which is a type of knife that has been popular throughout the nation’s history and continues to be a prized possession for many. This particular knife, which is portable as it folds over and closes, is made with a blade created through a unique style of hand-pounding steelwork attached to a handle made from various natural products such as buffalo, ram, goat horns, or boxwood. In addition to this trademark type of knife, the knife smiths of Hartlap are famed for producing some of the country’s best knives, used for hunting, in the kitchen, or even by döner vendors.
Last but not least, Maraş is also known for its unique embroidery technique referred to as File Nakışı, which involves unraveling the threads of cloth to then weave and embroider them into different designs and motifs. Similarly, Maraş is famed for having some of the most intricate hand embroidery techniques, with silk threads on silk and gold and silver threads used to embroider rich velvet fabrics.
Source: Daily Sabah
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