The drink that gives you strength – Istanbul style
December 31, 2009
In the three years I’ve been coming to Istanbul, I’ve eaten and drunk many many delicious things. But I was recently introduced to something quite unlike anything I’ve tasted before. I hesitate to call boza a drink, because its consistency is so thick, it easily supports the roast chickpeas you sprinkle on the top, and really you have to eat it with a spoon.
Not dissimilar to lassi in appearance, boza actually has no dairy in it at all, and is, in fact, made from fermented millet. Only drunk in the winter, its mild, tangy, yoghurty flavour is supposed to give you the strength to get through the cold weather.
And the only place to drink boza in Istanbul is in the beautiful old Vefa Bozacısı, on Çelebi Caddesi. It’s quite a ritual to have your boza there. First you buy your chickpeas from the little shop opposite, then you cross the street and take your place at a wooden table, under the immaculately tiled walls. The glasses of boza are lined up along a long counter, sprinkled liberally with freshly ground cinnamon. Then, drop a few of your roast chickpeas on top, and dig in. It’s a surprisingly light and refreshing pick-me-up, made all the more special by the surroundings, of course.