Autumn has come and almost gone. As winter looms, capable hands have begun preparations. The grapes are turning into wine, vinegar, and juice; the olives are on the way to the factory. Vegetables and fruits have long been dried, goods are canned, pickles “pickled ”. It’s as if the whole country has turned into a wintertime kitchen. Such a hustle and bustle… Seeing how it’s autumn, it’s impossible for the citrus fruit harvest to be left out.
Of course it hasn’t been; tangerines, lemons, and oranges are on the way. And how lovely they are! Here’s a piece of good news: We’ll all get our fill of citrus fruit this winter. We won’t have to pinch our pennies whilst buying lemons, oranges, or tangerines, because this year the citrus harvest has begun earlier than ever, and it is said that the yield is much more plentiful than this time last year.
We are lucky to live in a region which experiences all four seasons, and thanks to those who tirelessly toil over the earth, different fruits, vegetables, and berries are harvested every season. If you visit the Mediterranean coast these days, you will notice the pomegranates and oranges hanging off the trees, and as city-dwellers starved of fruit on trees, you might feel like stuffing the lot into your handbag.
When you get used to the massive amounts of fruit hanging off boughs and the idea that freshly picked fruit is not a luxury in these parts, you can finally start to enjoy the magnificent scenery stretching in front of your eyes.
Beautiful Flowers, Beautiful Fruit
When I first visited Mersin during harvest time, I had a hard time deciding what to do for a while. Only when I had had my fill of looking at the heavenly gardens did I realize that I was surrounded by magnificent scenery. Nowadays the excitement of harvest time is spreading around Mersin again. Lemons, oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, bitter oranges… These seasonal fruits packed with vitamins are brought to our tables thanks to the farmers in Mersin.
The city’s fruit harvest is so plentiful, it is as if it sprouts from the ground ! Don’t think that growing citrus fruit is easy, though, on the contrary, it’s a difficult and time-consuming job. The trees require care, and if the produce freezes, all the labor is in vain. One must tend to the orchard and monitor it daily, with patience and care.
If all these requirements are met, then the yield is plentiful. It’s equally mesmerizing to see the trees covered with flowers before they bear fruit. During harvest time, there’s a different type of excitement altogether.
This must be why citrus festivals make up a large number of local festivals in Turkey. When it comes to citrus, there are too many festivals to count. The festivals allow locals to experience the joy of harvest time, as well as promote citrus fruits locally and internationally.
Mersin’s “Citrus Festival” takes place on November 17-18 this year. As the streets of the city overflow with citrus fruit, food stalls, souvenir stands, folk dancing and other dance performances turn the entire city into a carnival. The festival is well-attended by locals, and it creates a sense of community that welcomes not only those who are professionally involved but also those who might not have anything to do with citrus fruit.
Guests from other cities and other countries are informed of the beautiful features of Mersin. If the festival can be considered as a type of stage, then the city, the produce, and the locals all play their part excellently.
Citrus fruit occupies a special place not just in Mersin’s economy but also its cuisine. We can see this clearly when we look at the fruit which accompany dishes such as Tantuni and kebab. Throughout its long history, Mersin has been home to many different civilizations, and by combining its heritage with the advantages of being a harbor town, it has bestowed unforgettable tastes on the culinary world.
The city’s multicultural life which embraces many different faiths is the primary factor influencing the local cuisine. Mersin’s local food owes its taste to a hearty blend of Turkish, Arabic, and Yuruk cuisines. The city’s location on the Mediterranean coast also spices up its cuisine.
In Mersin, the local equivalent to kebab is the Arabic dish Tantuni. It won’t surprise you to see a Tantuni shop on every corner, on the contrary, you’ll be surprised when you don’t see one. If there isn’t a Tantuni shop nearby, there will definitely be a Cezerye seller instead. That’s another gift of Arabic cuisine.
In Mersin, you can’t run away from the dessert! Even if you can moderate your Cezerye intake, you’ll be hard-pressed to say no to Kerebiç. What we’ve mentioned here are merely the highlights of Mersin cuisine, and the rest includes a variety of dishes rich in spices, meat, Bulgar, and vegetables.
Since Mersin is a seaside town, it is of course impossible to talk about its food without mentioning seafood. To get to know the Mediterranean aspect of the city, all you need to do is to make your way to Narlıkuyu. This little bay on the road to Silifke is home to seafood restaurants lined up side by side on the shore.
I can almost hear you protest “Enough about the food you ate, tell us a little about what you saw!” As you explore the streets of Mersin, you’ll often notice dashing buildings, large roads lined by palm trees, and stylish shops.
These are the reflections of Mersin’s commercial wealth on the city, after all it is home to the largest harbor in Turkey and the biggest free trade area. Properties in Mersin have increased in value a great deal over the past few years. It is also home to some of Turkey’s largest industrial establishments, which makes it all the more prominent. And we must add here: the fact that Mersin is such an attractive prospect makes it much more open to migration. However, no matter how much migration it receives, Mersin retains its places on the upper ranks of the “best cities to live” lists.
Have a pleasant visit and give my love to Mersin…