My Turkish friend Erem introduced me to these highly addictive "wet burgers" the minute I got to my hotel near Taksim Square. After a 17-hour flight, the compact burger—a garlicky patty inside a soft bun that's been doused in tomato sauce—thoroughly hit the spot. There are many stands that sell wet burgers in the Taksim area, but Kizilkayalar is the best, at least according to Erem, me, and Anthony Bourdain.
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Scenes in a City of Dichotomies
Built on two continents, Istanbul's people and society are influenced by both Europe and the Middle East. While Turkey’s economy is booming and Istanbul is turning into a sophisticated metropolis, the city still remains firmly rooted in its Ottoman and Muslim history.
In the Egyptian bazaar close to Topkapi Palace and the holy Blue Mosque, men sell fresh fish and spices and Turkish Delight. Women, wearing hijabs or not, barter and banter. Evil eyes dangle from above shop doors warding off general malevolence. Fishermen line the bridges and sell their fresh catches to cooks who fry them up and sell sandwiches for a couple lira along the docks of the Golden Horn.
At night in the vibrant Beyoglu district, the patrons of the cafes and bars spill out onto the street. Fruit vendors sell fresh, frothy pineapple and pomegranate juices to wash down the spicy but succulent donor kabap sold on street corners. Young men and women sit together clapping and singing along to fiddle and flute-heavy Turkish pop music.
During the call to prayer, five times a day, men fall to their knees, causing the city to pause for a moment of spiritual reflection. The muezzin’s voice rings out from mosques echoing through the city. Then everyone carries on, the sharply dressed businessmen in Taksim Square clutching their briefcases, strolling home while old men sitting on stools and sipping thick, dark coffee laugh together at their own private jokes.