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A Little Moan About Turkish Supermarkets

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I know this is a well known thing but apart from the obvious things like Marmite, there are so many things that are not available in even the bigger Turkish supermarkets. For example...just bog standard crispbreads like ryvita and a choice of ricecakes (I know they do those wee packs made by Form but they have corn in them), fresh milk, they don't seem to have cream (ok I'm dieting now but this is why they can't make cheesecake which requires sour cream)...

I could go on and on and on...

They don't have for example tins of soup..only Nesquik hot chocolate and we have so many kinds of hot drinks...no Ovaltine or Horlicks (ok Salep in the winter)...only that awful dishwater flavoured Liptons tea...and so on...their choices are limited to just Turkish made foods and I wonder if this is some form or protectionism? A Turkish friend told me some years ago a lot more imported foods were available. I have never been to a country which was totally devoid of crispbread. I suppose it is a sharp contrast to Germany where I lived for 3 years before Turkey but it seems a bit sad really.

The last place I had to fill my suitcase full of things was Russia during the shortages. And then when the shortages stopped they got all kinds of imported foods and it is much easier to buy all kinds of things in Moscow than it is in Istanbul.

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Yes, Abi, I think the import duty is a big reason as to why there is so little choice. My Turkish friend said she saw a much greater choice of food in the supermarkets say, seven years ago but then the import duty may have been much lower. The import duty judging by things like electronics is extremely high in turkey and whilst people may feel disposed to fork out for an occasional luxury technological item, they probably resent paying a lot for something as basic as food.

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Almost all the products you mentioned are available down here in the south west. In our local Migros for instance they have 3 or 4 different brands of German and Scandinavian crispbreads. They have fresh cream and fresh, semi-skimmed milk is available, although supplies can be a bit sporadic. I usually buy several bottles at a time and freeze them.

We have an excellent local wholesaler in Fethiye that stocks a huge range of "British" products including Campbell's Condensed Soups in Chicken, Tomato, Lentil and Pea & Ham flavours, together with a large range of Chinese and Indian foods from Patak, Amoy etc They've just announced that they'll be adding a supply of Marmite and Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup to their stock. We can even get genuine Cumberland Sausages, Gammon Steaks, Scampi etc in their freezer section if we're desperate for a taste of the "Old Country" :) In many cases there is a 250% import tax imposed on foreign foodstuffs, that's why they are so expensive.

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Over the past 12 years or so we have lived in Turkey, we have brought less and less food over with us, and now 'import' very little in our luggage. Either because there is now much more choice here or due to the fact that we now enjoy different foods.

We can get fresh milk here in

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..when i get the fresh milk at kipa..(dogal lezzet)..i just freeze it ..but dont forget to take a small amount out to allow for expansion :)

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I've got Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Bible and there are very few ingredients that I can't get here. Fresh ginger used to be the big problem but now Migros stock it. Fresh milk I get from my neighbours who have cows and for Golden Syrup I use honey.

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I have rarely seen crispbread here in Istanbul, even in the bigger supermarkets. Dieting and diabetic foods are impossible to find here so I load up with those when on my bodybuilding diet.

Sorry to make you hungry, Dande by this discussion:)Seems like Abi hit the nail on the head regarding import tax. If that was reduced we'd be seeing an awful lot of different stuff in the shops and only food stuffs. 250% is ridiculous really - smacks of protectionism I'd say.

Finally, as I'd always suspected, in resort towns in the South where large communities of expats live, there is more choice. That doesn't surprise me since the retailers stock such things knowing there is a market for them. Although there are plenty of foreigners in Istanbul, they aren't all from one country and they are all spread out. I think the nearest thing you get to a community is Cihangir in the centre, where people tell me there is a Carrefour which sells some imported foods. Near my school in Sisli there is a big Carrefour but it stocks no foreign products as there are few foreigners living in that area.

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I guess we're lucky here in Kas as we have a good local supermarket, which is better than the small Migros we have. They stock fresh milk sometimes, though not on a regular basis and there's always a supply of UHT cream. A tip, if you need sour cream for a recipe, just use half natural yogurt and half UHT cream, works like a dream!

Crispbreads are also easily available here although they're a bit more expensive than in th UK.

Golden syrup would be a fantastic addition to their stock, I must tell them!

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It's not just the poor choice in the supermarkets of course. My Turkish friends are always asking me to bring things such as cosmetics and toiletries which are invariably foreign produced. Such esoteric items as sports foods, diet foods and sports supplements are impossible to get in Turkey of course so people have to order them from abroad. I order stuff from a website I've used for ages and collect it all when I go back to the UK. I think it's down to supply and demand as well since I saw someone on another site saying she couldn't get self raising flower and Turkish bakery is brick-like and unrisen (when was the last time you saw a sponge cake in Turkey?) so that is down to national tastes.

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Again, things like self-raising flour are easy to find, so long as you know exactly what to look for.

Don't be put-off because it says "Sade" on the packet. Although Sade means plain, in this case it means that the flour isn't flavoured. They also do self-raising flour with Nut, Chocolate or Lemon flavouring already added.

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The words on the red banner at the bottom of the packet is the giveaway: kabartma tozu icerir = contains baking powder.

Edit: Actually kabarmak is to swell, rise, increase. So literally translated it is rising powder

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Apart from anything else, I've found such basic things such as corn flakes extremely expensive in Turkey -- a small pack (250g) of Kellogg's in Tansaş is 4.95 lira ! BIM sells a copycat brand (Kelly's) which is OK, only 2.50 for 500g, but that's still pretty high .... I've seen it in the UK at less than a

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Meral, quite:) I think those of us lucky to get to Europe from time to time find our suitcases packed with stuff we either can't get in Turkey or that cost at least twice as much. For my part, I can't understand WHY there are no ranges for slimmers or diabetics (especially) in Turkey. I am sure they also have many diabetics who want special sugar free ranges, sweets especially which are so easy to get in Italy and Germany (and in the UK Boots do a great range). I find myself just doing shopping trips here really. I can't understand why the shopping Turkey is SO limited. Official end of whinge:))

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Never understood why you can't get tins of corned beef here either. I sometimes get lucky if I know of someone going to Rhodes and might bring me back a couple of tins......and any Turkish person gets a whiff of it and it's gone. They love it.

Also as a coeliac I really struggle with the lack of gluten free goods available,and the exhorbitant cost if I do find any. Tansas sometimes have spaghetti but at 10 lira a packet it's like caviar prices. When I was in hospital in Istanbul,they got gluten free bread in especially for me and told me that many people here have this problem so cannot understand why it's not readily available.

In 10 years I have never seen it anywhere else and no doubt if I did, I wouldn't be able to afford it.

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ATS, pardon my ignorance but what is Metro? And why pay a pass to get into a supermarket (if that's what it is).

Saffie, yes, I've lived in several different countries (some outside the EU) and never seen such a restricted choice as in Turkey. I may be paranoid but I feel it is political (not with a big 'P' but in the sense of maybe something like the supermarkets' monopoly only allowing certain foods and makes) and as you say, very difficult for those with allergies, special diets or intolerances.

By the way thank you for your PM re getting rid of fleas! I haven't had the time to get hold of such stuff yet but am rather dreading my first night in Istanbul because it has been warm there and the windows have been closed for 2 weeks:(

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its like a cash and carry..my nearest one is in izmir ..but i use tespo,s in kusadasi..

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Steve, thanks:) I'll ask my friend in Istanbul about it but it might be a long way from where I live. Meanwhile I'll just keep lugging back supplies every few months:)

Benh, its like Steve says: cash and carry.

In all big cities there is a Metro, so I am very sure that there will be one in your area also.

Normally only people with a company can go inside, but it's not difficult with a daypass as a single person.

The building is dark blue on the outside, and the word Metro is written in yellow.

They have more foreign food then any other supermarkets.

This is their website, but it's in Turkish:http://www.metro-tr.com/servlet/PB/menu/-1_l8/index.htmlGood luck!

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