Neslihan Büfe may seem like just another fast-food sidewalk cafe, a duplicate of the millions of its twins around the city, and it is. But does that mean it should be disregarded? The Büfe plays an important roll in the functioning of Istanbul, and is therefore worth a more careful examination if only for sociologial purposes.
Generally speaking, restaurant culture is fairly new and unrefined in Turkey as a result of a strong social system which promotes living at home and being fed by your mother/wife. In fact, Turkish women spend on average 6 hours a day on unpaid work, and the majority of that is spent in the kitchen. So with this abundance of hearty home-cook, why go out? Not to mention the financial burden of eating away from home, in an only recently unimpovereshed country. But industrialization has come, at last, and people, particularly single working age men, have flood into the city from the countryside, leaving behind their village lifestyle and stay at home personal chefs. The motivation is money, not modernity, and cost cutting often leads to over-packed flat shares of single men all of whom haven’t the foggiest idea how to prepare a meal other than boiled noodles with ketchup over them. The result? The money earned is sent back to the family, and an affluence of cheap, fast, and occasionally tasty food stalls catering to the overworked, bachelor, penniless masses. These places are called Büfes, and they serve a pretty standard fare of Döner, pre-fabricated hamburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches called Kaşarşı tost, and a load of other junk like Coke and cigarettes.
Neslihan Büfe is a quintessential example of its species, and does a pretty decent job of with the food despite itself. The cowboy hat gimmick is inexplicable, but the Kaşarli Et Dürüm (meat and cheese wrap) is stuffed with an ample amount of melty cheese, fatty beef, and grilled spicy green peppers. The cowboy has his own trick for toasting the wraps, he presses them against the heating coils of the Döner machine to give them that fresh-grilled appearance. For 6tl it s a filling and cheap snack on the go, for the busy and poor.
Postane Cadd. No. 24/1
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