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 Time to upgrade your spice rack Turkish style.

They say variety is the spice of life. And it’s true. What would food be without spice? While proteins and vegetables are often the stars of most dishes, spices are the true unsung heroes of gastronomy. They take a blank canvas and transform not only its flavor but also its color and aroma as well. From the basic salts and peppers to the more complex turmeric, cumin, and any number of blends, spices are usually our first point of contact with our food, engaging and exciting our brains (and our stomachs) about what we’re about to eat. Nobody understands this concept more than the Turkish people, and the Egyptian Bazaar in Istanbul – or the Spice Bazaar – is basically the Holy Grail for spice lovers with over 3,000 varieties available for purchase.

The history of this spice market goes back to medieval times when it was once the largest spice trading venue in the world. Originally a marketplace for goods like spices, medicinal herbs, aromatic incenses, and fragrant essential oils brought from Egypt, not much has changed since then. Aside from the normal technological advances that come with the passage of time, hundreds of years later the Egyptian Bazaar continues to be a place that attracts visitors looking for exotic foreign goods.

The Turks love their spices, something that is pretty obvious when it comes to their cuisine. But much like the spice blends, Turkish cuisine is a mixture of styles, ingredients, and, you guessed it, spices from the different immigrant communities that have made their way to Istanbul. It’s that variety coming together that gives Turkish food its amazing decadence and all-around yum factor. It’s the perfect recipe for deliciousness.