hide captionHeaps of dried fruit, dates, and spices line the Turkish Market in Neukölln.
Tam Eastley for NPR
Heaps of dried fruit, dates, and spices line the Turkish Market in Neukölln.
Tam Eastley for NPR
My first experience with a Turkish market was four years ago in Izmir, Turkey. A friend who lived in the city took me shopping, and the experience was extraordinary. Everywhere I looked there was food, fabrics, shawls, and perfumes.
Until I came to Berlin, I thought I'd never see a real Turkish Market again.
The Turkish market in the northern part of Neukölln is a welcome return. Nestled along the Landwehrkanal on Maybachufer lies table after table of surprises.
Heaps of spices, fabrics, vegetables, shoes, fish, household necessities, incense and jewellery line the tables.
"Lecker! Lecker! Lecker!" (Delicious! Delicious! Delicious!) chants one vendor, holding fresh strawberries in the air for all to see.
The Turkish Market In Berlin
"Don't forget avocados," yells another vendor. Mounds of fruits and vegetables are actively sold, weighed, and thrown to eager customers. They are easily detectable with their overflowing orange plastic bags which dot the crowds.
Snack vendors sell cheese and spinach gözlemes, and near the entrance of the market, Becky's Afro-Küche tempts shoppers with fried bananas and rice with beans and vegetables.
Shopping at the market is an activity.
In Izmir, I was told to get right in there or I'd never be able to buy anything. I pushed my way to the front of the crowd, waving a polka dot t-shirt in the air (my purchase of choice), and then reached above my head and over many others to pass the vendor my money. With my new t-shirt in my hand, I felt a huge sense of accomplishment for having succeeded in such a cultural exchange.
The Turkish Market in Berlin requires similar maneuvers. One needs to squeeze past the elderly Turkish women with their rolling shopping bags, scope out various stalls to search for the best deal and bide one's time. Prices are lowered at the end of the day, and it's not unheard of to walk away with a box of mangoes for only one euro.
At the stall overflowing with olives, dates, couscous, and Turkish tea, I talked to Mike who was born in Berlin but is of Turkish descent. His products are from Morocco, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Croatia. He's a staple at the market and in Berlin, having worked there for over 10 years.
hide captionA vendor sells cherries at the Market.
Tam Eastley for NPR
He's one of the over 250,000 Germans with Turkish background in Berlin. Mike likes working at the market and feels a strong sense of community.
"We help each other out," he says. "If there were problems, we'd move to another market, but we have no problems."
At another table is Carlos, a German who sells mostly organic vegetables from areas around Germany every week. He uses a rusty old weight scale, complete with various metallic weights which he places gently on the scales to weigh a customer's potatoes. Next to him, another vendor has labeled his vegetables with the country of origin: avocados and lemons from Spain, strawberries from Germany, cherries from Italy, potatoes and garlic from France, limes from Brazil, and ginger from Thailand.
It seems there's something for everyone at the Turkish Market. Open on Tuesdays and Fridays from approximately 11:00 until 6:30, it's a great way to spend the afternoon, whether it be to shop or just to people watch. On warm sunny days, it's also a meeting place for friends, young and old, where small concerts are performed in an area beside the canal. From hipster old-school jazz troupe to a lone acoustic guitar player, the music of the market adds an eclectic and typical Berlin touch to the already exciting atmosphere. The market is truly a friendly, open, and accessible taste of Turkey in Berlin.
The closest U-Bahn stations are Schönleinstrasse and Kottbusser Tor.