Çiçek pasajı- Turkish art music and rakı

One of my favorite places that I’ve been so far in Istanbul is called çiçek pasajı (flower passage). A friend took me here to experience some traditional Turkish chill time. First of all, this place is beautiful, you don’t even know were to look. It’s basically a long hallway with many restaurants and places to sit. We decided to go to an underground place, like a cavern, with dark brick archways and dim lanterns on the walls. Our mission: to drink rakı and be merry. Rakı is the traditional Turkish drink of choice. It tastes kind of like licorice. Though it’s about the same strength as vodka, one usually dilutes it with water. Though, it’s really a tricky drink since it is so sweet and not too harsh. You can just keep drinking it like no one’s business, and soon you’ve gone through a whole bottle.

Once we had our rakı, the waiters brought a cart full of little dishes called “meze”– basically, all kinds of different appetizers that you traditionally drink with rakı. You are supposed to eat things that are fatty/oily like cheese, or beans in olive oil, because they neutralize the rakı and keep you from getting sick/dizzy. I have to say, these snacking options are so much better than those nasty, dirty peanuts served in American bars.

We were lucky to go on a night when there was live music. The genre is called Turkish art music, and it’s my newest craze. I don’t know too much about it yet, so I can’t explain it well, but you should look it up on youtube. It is phenomenal. The thing I think is the coolest is that there are many more possible notes that in the Western scale, 27 sounds, I think. But it doesn’t sound harsh or chaotic at all, it is very smooth.

So, I think I’ve found my new home- çiçek pasajı!


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