The Restaurant

48Everyone knows how rich the Ottoman cuisine is. But, there are many people who cannot even imagine the fact that there were not any restaurants in the Grand Bazaar and the city in the past. When we think of the food kiosks, and various kabob shops in every corner, and about the fact that most of these restaurants ruin the roof of the Bazaar and fill the Bazaar’s air with food smells, we naturally cannot believe that there were not any of these in the past. Here is another quotation from Çelik Gülersoy: “What is interesting is that while almost every profession was being representecl in the Bazaar, there were not any restaurants. This situation did not arise from the fact that there was another center of this profession, which appeal both to the stomach and the eye, in the city. In the old İstanbul life, there used to be no such profession. For single workers, there were cook shops which served one or two kinds of simple dishes. Also, There were smail scaled shops !ike milk sellers, pudding shops, anel kabob shops, which specialized on a single procluct and were the bests in their businesses. In today’s context, also as an establishment which senres for hundreds of years in the West, the restaurant, which prepared an entire cuisine and menu according to certain rules, clid not exist. The social reasons of this situation, which sounds strange toclay, are: The reservedness of women according to the religious law: In the West, institutions !ike hotels, restaurants and places for entertainment are established basecl on the fact of women and men living together in the society. Since the women in the Ottoman Empire could not go to a place with her husbancl, these places could not exist. Not urbanized settling form of the society, nomadic customs of thousands of years which last even today and value judgments, could not enter the static and ceremonial living environments of city institutions. There were not any  restaurants in the Grand Bazaar or in the eity. There were not any dining rooms even in houses.


The food was eaten around round metal trays which were earried to eveıy room. Even the palaees did not have any dining rooms, let alone houses. In the same principals of life leisureliness, when the time to eat eame, the trays were earried to the plaee where the members of the palaee were; depending on the season, they would be earried to the terraee, garden, ete. Even the magnificent Dolmabahçe Palaee, whieh was built as an imitatian of the ones in the West, does not have any dining rooms. The food was served in trays to eaeh person’s room and to the living rooms. As a result of this social tradition, the tradesmen of the Bazaar also ate their breakfast, bnıneh and luneh from the dinner pails ealled “Travel Bowls” that they brought from home, and later ordered fruits and deserts from the shops. Even the name of the dinner pails is miginating from traveling and nomadie life: “Travel Bowl.” That is why restaurants were never bom. When it eame to the gastronomy in the Grand Bazaar, everyone knew the pieturesque and eute eorner, the small pudding house, loeated on the Adeesme interseetion in Halidlar Street. It is said that this pavilion, whieh is clearly a Iate era strueture and not older than one hundred fifty years old, even though the exaet date it was built is unknown, was also visited by Mahmut II. When İstan­ bul was a throne eity and had a refined population, this plaee was a mueh more sophisticated plaee than it is today. It used to be in demand by the foreigners as mueh as the people of İstanbul. In her memoirs, whieh were published way later, An English lady, who lived in Bosphorus for twenty two years during the Abdulhamit era, talks with love and longing about the meals eonsist of kabobs, puddings with rose water and eoffee, and the luxurious ehina sets in whieh these dishes were served, in this pavilion whieh she likens to “a two storey London bus”. In 1978, this pavilion was turned into an apparel store-” This plaee, which still keeps its eleganee and beauty, is eurrently a jewelry store.

Sahaflar (Antiquarian Booksellers) :  U7ho knows who passed by and ltift the Grand Bazaar for five hundred and fifty years … ? janissaries used to bring ınore pillages fı’om the places they conquered. Of course the fina! desfination for those pillages was the Grand Bazaar. The Grand Bazaar was named “Çarşı-yı Kebir” at that time which meant ‘Big Bazaar”. The thing that caught ıny attention the most was the fact that the books were being brought by janissaries as pillages. Sahajlar Street used to be one qf the most impoı1ant streets of the Bazaar. The street which starts fı’oın Cevahir Bedestan gate that opens to current Halıcılar Street used to be the center of the Booksellers The precious books which eınbellish ınany ınuseuıns and libraries in the West nowadays ınostly were taken from the Grand Bazaar. World-ıuide known aı1ists, politicians, kings, queens and after all whoever caıne to İstanbul wanted to see the Grand Bazaar. It has always been a pleasure to shop in the Grand Bazaar.

Çelik Gülersoy

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