November 28, 2023

Food Bazaar

Get In My Food Bazaar

New book documents Istanbul, Tel Aviv bazaars through food, culture


A new book on the bazaars of Istanbul and Tel Aviv documents the cities through a unique in-depth journey into their food and culture.

Istanbul-based Polish origin anthropologist Kornelia Binicewicz and Italian documentary photographer Italo Rondinella are the creators of Pazar//Shuk (which means marketplace in Turkish and Hebrew).

The multi-media project features a book as well as photos and videos capturing the sights and sounds of the bazaars.

Credit: Italo Rondinella

The hard cover has been published by Istanbul-based Paper Street Co.

Binicewicz and Rondinella have been living in Istanbul for 10 and eight years, respectively.

“We have been living here and we have experienced how important the marketplaces are,” Binicewicz told Anadolu Agency at the book launch.

“Semt pazarlar (Turkish for district bazaar) are those places where real people meet when they exchange, when they communicate, … and those places are extremely important to understand what’s happening in the culture of the city,” Binicewicz said.

“This is one of the most beautiful situations to experience to have a chance to dive to be immersed in this kind of universes,” she added.

According to Binicewicz, being in Istanbul, makes you “feel the culture of the life,” as it is “so diverse, so multi-dimensional.”

“(…) You want to discover it more and understand more, and Tel Aviv is very similar,” she added.

Israeli Embassy project

The duo spent around six months to create the book.

They visited markets in Istanbul and Tel Aviv, took photos and recorded sounds.

As both Binicewicz and Rondinella are based in Istanbul, they spent more time there, and only 10 days in Tel Aviv.

The text that Binicewicz wrote is based on the research we did earlier, Rondinella said.

Credit: Italo Rondinella

“The Tel Aviv part was really helpful to have Elazar (Zinvel) as a producer because he connected us very fast and easily with people and market and chefs,” he added.

Zinvel, who served as the cultural attache of the Israel Embassy in Türkiye between 2018-22, is the executive producer of the project.

“Pazar/Shuk is a unique project which consists of a beautiful hardcover book and a multi-media site that tells the story of Tel Aviv and Istanbul markets from the interesting perspective,” Zinvel told Anadolu Agency.

He said it is the leading cultural project of The Consulate General of Israel in Istanbul for 2022. “Our aim was to demonstrate the similarities between the cities on one side but also the differences and uniqueness of each city through the microcosmos setting of the city markets and I think we have accomplished that.”

“On a personal note, this is also my last project in my position as cultural attache in Istanbul and I’m very happy that my last project is a beautiful love letter to the cities I love the most and call them home,” he said.

Same cities, different stories

Binicewicz said there are both similarities and differences between the two cities.

“In the exhibition you can see two photos of two women, making kind of gozleme (flatbread).

“And one looks a little bit maybe different than typical Turkish one but very similar. And this is an Israeli Druze woman who is baking also some kind of bread flatbread,” she said.

“This book is about similarities, but also it is telling about differences,” she said. “Because the recognition of differences is very important.”

However, Binicewicz says there is a “huge difference” between the two cities.

“In Tel Aviv, the culture of market is mostly based on the food consumption. Chefs are overtaking the marketplaces.

“They are really recreating a new culture of consumption of the idea of market while in Istanbul the culture is very local and connected to consumers, like back in the days,” she said.

“All the people who want to buy fresh products go to the market,” she said.

However, she added that in Tel Aviv, it has “got a little bit changed but it also goes with the demography. It goes with changes in economy and everything.”

“Marketplace is like a lens,” according to Binicewicz. “But you see through and see how the societies are changing, how the neighborhoods are changing.”

The book also tells the story of gentrification which forced the bazaars to make way for shopping malls.

Credit: Italo Rondinella

“It is the same for Tel Aviv,” she said, explaining that in Tel Aviv the bazaars are changing to meet the expectations of customers. “So the local sellers are gone but there are only cool chefs producing amazing foods.”

“That means the poor more economically struggling society cannot go to this market anymore,” she added.

Local stories

There are 350 bazaars in Istanbul, but only six in Tel Aviv, the book states.

“The bazaars in Istanbul, in Türkiye in general, are a reflection of people who live in the place,” she said.

She recalled a visit to a marketplace in Samatya, which has long been associated with Istanbul’s Armenian population.

Credit: Italo Rondinella

“Now, it’s not anymore for many reasons,” she said, referring to Türkiye’s republican-era “Turkification” policies which reduced the number of minorities in the country.

The 1923 population exchange between Türkiye and Greece, the 1942 “wealth tax” which hit non-Muslim communities and the 1955 Istanbul incidents – also known as the “Events of 6-7 September” – saw many minority citizens leave the country.

“We are trying to understand what remains of this, and what is the story, what is the demographic story of this place, and how it is reflected in what people think about this place right now,” she said.

Credit: Italo Rondinella

“So we were trying also to trace the people who remember the old history. For example, we met the fishermen Hilmi Yildiz who is still catching mackerel (for Ciroz), which is the old Armenian way of processing mackerel.

“But nobody does that anymore, because there are very few Armenians who really want to do it and there are fewer Armenians than in the past,” she said. “But he does that. And he told us ‘I do it because all the people who I care from the past or my masters, were Armenians. I do it. It’s my habit. Nobody buys them anymore, but I do it every year.’”

Credit: Anna Serrano

“Samatya is a historical Armenian neighborhood, but then you discover that now, it is populated with Black people from Africa,” Rondinella noted.

These changes can be followed through the sellers in the bazaars, Rondinella said, giving the example of a Ukrainian seller in the market who sells home-made Ukrainian foods.

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