Image via WikipediaThe Mısır Çarşı, aka Egyptian or Spice Market, of Istanbul is a great place for someone who loves to bake or cook. Since it's the season of eating (My friend Anne's definition of the holidays), I thought we'd take a tour.
The Turkish spice trade calls the market home and in days past, ships from Egypt (hence the name "Egyptian Market") and various other ports of call stopped here with their goods. Istanbul was central to the Spice Routes and the Silk Routes. When the Ottomans boycotted your country, there was no pepper for your roast, no silk for your wife's new dress. Forget about tea and coffee. Hence the Age of Exploration, Columbus and *ahem* the New World.
But back to baking...the halls of the market are full of yummy things besides spices, like teas, dried Turkish apricots and pistachios or Turkish Delight. Perfume oils and inscense are down at the end of the L shaped building and tobaccos (flavored and not) are in there somewhere too, if you need some for your pipe or Narghile.The Mısır Çarşı is much smaller than it's cousin, the Grand Bazaar, but a delight for your sense of smell you shouldn't miss.
Note: US Customs doesn't allow entry of food or spices...you'll have to eat it all in Istanbul.
Here's a pretty good tourist video of the market. They start outside at the Eminonu market stalls, then have tea with narghile at a café and end up at the Sarnic restaurant (inside an ancient cistern). It's a decent way to spend 5 minutes in Istanbul today!