In America restaurants waving the local-and-sustainable flag like you to know that they know where their ingredients come from. An entree along the lines of 'Billy Bob's pork chops with Heaven On Earth Farm peach compote and a mixed mash of Patty Paulson's red carrots and Muddy Boy kabocha squash' wouldn't raise any eyebrows in foodie circles.
The vendor slapping together dürüm (a local 'wrap' filled with garbanzos or pilav, or both) at a wheeled cart at the backside of Gaziantep's kale (castle) isn't waving around a menu, but a stroll around the area will tell you all you need to know about the freshness and provenance of his ingredients.
The bread is baked a ten-minute walk away, in a slip of a shop anchored by a big wood-fired oven on the back wall. A teenager forms each piece -- stretching pillows of dough on a slab of marble with his palms, imprinting the the bread with the tips of his fingers, and then stretching them again into a football shape -- while an older gent slides his bread paddle in and out of the oven, then lays the flat loaves on wooden slats to cool (no soggy crusts here).
The bread disappears as quick as it's made; men stride into the bakery empty-handed and leave carting dozens of crusts wrapped in paper.
Our dürüm maker sources his flat-leaf parsley, onions, and tomatoes a bit closer to home .. steps from his stall, in other words.
Shops displaying bags of fresh mild cheese, olives, tomato paste, pails of fresh milk and yogurt, mesh sacks of potatoes and purslane, wooden crates filled with tomatoes and eggplant and onions and bell peppers, bundles of young fragrant garlic, and mounds of mint, tarragon, and flat-leaf parsley line the street on which he parks his cart.
There too are the sources of his nohut (garbanzo beans) and rice -- dealers of 'dried foods', the entrances to their shops draped with strings of dried eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and okra, their front pavements crowded with bins of rice and bulgur, wheat berries and pulses, and several varieties of ground dried chilies.
The source of these fresh and dried items? In most cases, for ingredients that can be produced in southeastern Turkey's hot, dry climate, a nearby village. At dawn farmers and cheese and yogurt makers arrive at this street by truck, bicycle and motorbike,and on foot, bearing their products. Most of the cheese makers, one shop owner told me, live not more than 10 kilometers away.
Yesterday's breakfast, then -- in American foodie speak:
Nohut Dürümu (Garbanzo Bean 'Wrap')
Ali Bey's summer tomatoes, nohut grown by Sulaymin steps from the Euphrates, and flat-leaf parsley hand-picked from the terraced garden of Bunyamin and his wife Mazya, all rolled in Mehmet Usta's bread freshly made with flour ground from summer wheat harvested just outside Gaziantep. Served with a pinch of hand-ground Urfa biber (dried red chili) and a sprinkle of köy (village) vinegar
Price: Ridiculously inexpensive.