So, it was my last full day here in Istanbul. Christmas is coming and that means major cooking. I figured I’d better get to the spice market, which I did. I’m glad to say the bird will be covered in pretty red harissa paste and there will be saffron in the mashed potatoes. Life is good.
The big news is that Pandeli has reopened. For those of you thinking ,”Oh? And so?” This is the story.
Long ago, when the spice market first opened, merchants would come into town to do business. Maybe it was “business,” I don’t know, but the wives came too. They would shop, maybe hit the hamam, and then they would go to rooms upstairs in the spice market and wait for hubby. These rooms were covered in beautiful tiles.
Over time this ritual ceased and the rooms became a restaurant, Pandeli, favoured by expats and tourists. Then one day it was decreed that the spice market was to be renovated. As part of this, Pandeli was closed. The thing is, the spice market reopened with its new paint job and all, but Pandeli remained closed, for years. I have no idea why.
All I can tell you is that it has reopened and the tourists are gone. In their place are super-wealthy Turkish people. Unless people were talking to me in impeccable, educated English, I heard only Turkish. I don’t know where they live or where they go when they leave — they look nothing like the people on the street — but I’d love to know where they buy their clothes. I’m thinking Milan or maybe everything is tailored.
Seriously, where do they live? Too much of Istanbul is still crumbling away, like the building above. A guide told me that there are often inheritance disputes that keep buildings in this condition. You can’t see the pretty 1920’s detailing, nor can you see that only the ground floor is inhabited. Maybe you can still tell that this is a neglected gem– in a great location, too. I’m renovated out. Somebody else will have to rescue it.
Actually I think they live in an area called Nisantasi. It’s pretty but kind of a cultural dead zone. I bet there are good tailors there and shops that import — from Milan, I think. Paris clothes are fussy and fit tightly. Milan is more about elegant wool and the perfect funnel-neck sweater.
Okay. Enough. I’m just glad that I decided to step my own travel wardrobe up a notch, so at least I didn’t embarrass myself.
Today it’s home again, home again, lickety split. I’ve got to get down to the house and get Christmas dinner on the table. I might even get Jacques to look a little less miserable when I put on his elf hat. Anything is possible.
Merry Christmas, all.