The Local Market
The primary source for food shopping in Fethiye is the local market, or pazar, held three times a week. The main market is in the center of town on Tuesday. Two other markets are held. On Saturday, east of the main bus station (Otogar) and Sunday out near the large hospital. The Saturday and Sunday markets are not quite as busy and therefore a bit more relaxed with time to get to know your local vendors.
We found the selection and prices excellent. You can purchase everything at the market, yogurt, village cheese, olives, fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs and eggs. It is very seasonal and we noticed changes in the availability of fruits and vegetables from week to week as things came into season in the Spring.
At this point you are probably wondering how we manage at the market since we don’t speak Turkish? Well a few things help:
- Some vendors do speak English (easiest).
- Usually the system is you select what you want, put it in a bag; they weigh it and tell you the price.
- Weights are in kilos and they know the word kilo, if you say ½ a kilo, they all seem to know this.
- Most vendors have prices marked so you can calculate in your head about what the total should be.
- Fingers work for numbers.
- Other shoppers will help if they see you need assistance, someone can translate for you.
- If all else fails, and you can’t work out how much something is, just hand them some money, we find people to just be honest, no one is trying to rip you off at the local market. They will help you with the money and give you the correct change.
- Speak slowly, point and smile a lot. You will be fine. And it will be fun!
And when it all gets “lost in translation” and doesn’t work, like with our purchase of green peppercorns instead of what we thought were green lentils, you have a funny story to tell.
People are friendly and curious and many want to know where you are from and have a chat. Many want to practice their English. As the weeks went on it was great to be greeted by the vendors who would remember you from the week before. It was just like going to the market at home!
The Fish Market
The Fish Market is located in the Old Town, not the fruit and vegetable market. It is open 7 days a week, from early until late.
It is somewhat unique in that not only can you buy that day’s catch to take home, but for a small fee of 6 TL per person (about $2 USD) you can get it cooked by one of the restaurants in the plaza by the fish market. This includes the cooking, salad, and bread.
You can buy a bottle of wine or other drinks and you are all set.
Many of the fish vendors speak English so that makes it easy. For our meal we had two starters, calamari and shrimps, then some fish. The vendor, Mr. Octopus, as he is known (really you can’t make this stuff up- the real thing is so much funnier!) asked how we would like our fish cooked- grilled or fried. We went for grilled so he recommended a fish that was appropriate for this method of cooking. He weighs it up, tells you the price and you tell him where you are going to eat (or ask for a recommendation) you pay and you are done at the fish monger.
Proceed to the restaurant of your choice. The vendor and the restaurant will get your fish there, get it cleaned and all you have to do is sit back and relax.
We ordered some mezes to go with our fish, a nice bottle of Turkish white wine, and had a feast.
If you want to take your fish home to cook, just let them know. They will clean it for you. There are several vegetable vendors in the same plaza area so you can get vegetables to accompany your fish all in the one stop.
A most pleasant experience and really a must do if you are in Fethiye. Many of the restaurants are open all day (or at least from lunch time onward) but the atmosphere is a bit better if you come after 5 pm. The fish market is open late into the evening.
A Trip to the Butcher
Meat seems very expensive in Turkey. Chicken is the cheapest, beef and lamb are quite expensive and pork is a bit harder to find.
There are three types of meat sellers- chicken, lamb and beef, and pork. One shop does not sell everything. Chicken was available from a couple of refrigerated trucks at the market. Pork is at a specialty pork shop (there are several on the road leading out toward the hospital and the Sunday market).
That leaves the butcher for meat and lamb. We are picky about meat, preferring grass fed beef. Well luckily for us, and you fellow travelers, most places outside of the USA only have grass fed beef! We found the selection to be pretty good.
In Fethiye there is a good butcher across from the main Migros location (Migros is a large local grocery store) on Mustafa Kemal St. Depending on when you are there, someone may speak English. The first time we went in someone was there that spoke perfect English. The second time, no one spoke a word of English. We were after a special cut of lamb which was not on display and were having trouble communicating this- so the resourceful shopkeeper went to the shop next door and got a man who spoke English! He came over and translated for us. (Another translation method is via phone. They will call someone they know who speaks English, you speak to the person on the phone and they will translate what you said for them. This works pretty well!)
If you want minced meat, it is made fresh before your eyes. They take the cut of meat and run it through the grinder. If you tell them what you are going to use it for, i.e. meatballs, kofte, they will grind it appropriately. You can’t get any fresher than that!
The other place we found an excellent butcher is over by the fish market. There are two here, both were very good. The larger butcher has a selection of beautiful dry-aged beef (and a price to match) which is being aged and dried in these beautiful Himalayan salt-lined cabinets. You can see the meat hanging (and the salt). In the picture this is the pink looking cabinets in the back. So if you need a good steak, I am sure you can find one here.
You can purchase sucuk (the sausage hanging in the picture) from any butcher or the grocery store.
Enjoy your shopping!
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What a cool experience! Great tips for how to go to a market in any country where you don’t speak the language! If all else fails, trust is what it comes down to but I find most vendors aren’t going to rip you off.
Francesca, Agree, most of them are just excited you have come to the market and are interested in their food and culture. Thanks for commenting
This is an interesting post, those shopping tips will sure come handy to anyone who will go to the market in Turkey.
Thanks Marjorie. The markets in Turkey were certainly a pleasant experience and the range of foods was excellent.
sounds a fantastic way to shop! Love a haggle at a market!
Definitely a pleasant experience. Thanks for your comment.
It all looks delicious! Would be really cool to see mince meat made right before your eyes, what a cool experience.
Yes at least you know the mince is fresh! Interesting to see different ways things are done around the world. Thanks for your comment.
Good to know that they also sell pork! This market reminds me of some markets we visited in Jerusalem with the abundance of differents kinds of nuts and spices displayed all over, it’s just amazing!
I would imagine that a lot of the foods are common between Fethiye and Jerusalem. We loved the social aspect of the Fethiye markets.
Thanks for your interest. Food in Fethiye and Turkey surprised to the upside. It was a definite highlight.