There are Americans who will not eat green things. I know this from experience. Turks are not afraid of green things. On the contrary -- Turks embrace vegetables, they adore vegetables. In Turkey you're never far from a good salad. Because we love vegetables too, we adore Turks for this.
Take the humble salatalık (cucumber). In Turkey the cucumber is not a vegetable to merely chop into a salad, preserve into a pickle, or stir into yogurt for a side dish. It is a delicacy that can stand on its own, savored on the street. And not just by adults either -- kids love 'em.
All over Istanbul -- and in Gaziantep as well -- we found men pushing carts loaded with golf course-green vegetal missiles awaiting the skinning and salting that would render them deserving of the moniker 'Snack'.
Some salatalık carts attract more traffic than others.
This vendor, parked in the middle of the Sunday flea market next to Beyazit Mosque, enjoyed steady business while another on the opposite side of the square stood idle. Why?
Maybe it was the come-hither appearance of his product, kept cool and glistening with regular splashes of water . Perhaps his salatalık tasted better than those of his rival, and word had spread 'round the market from prayer beads seller to used mobile phone purveyor to junk hawker.
It could also have been a bordering-on-showy way with the vegetable peeler, that seemed to inspire in bystanders equal measures of awe and admiration.
In the twenty minutes that we meandered the market this guy's veg stash was reduced by half. Peeled, sliced horizontally, barely to the base, into 4 petals, tuzsuz (without salt -- the harsh commercial salts used by these guys are to be avoided), .5 Turkish lira (32 American cents).
It was indeed a very good salatalık.
Cucumber vendor, Istanbul anywhere.