Happy Bayram! A Guide To International Groceries In Austin Texas

When I began preparing for my journeys through Istanbul, I dove headfirst into thick tomes on the culture of the city.

I quickly discovered that Turkey is a secular country with topless beaches, loud heavy metal concerts, couples making out on park benches, people walking down the streets drinking from cans of beer and all manners of conspicuous consumption like you might find in, say, New Orleans.

It’s good to be a Turk.

Then there’s Ramazan. Or Ramadan as it’s known in most of the Muslim world.It is a month long period of fasting prayer and celebration that comes to an end tonight Saturday August 18th 2012 at dusk. At the end of this month-long fast, Turkish Muslims throw a 3 day party known as Bayram. It can get a little wild as Turks love to party and heavy drinking is a cultural norm with bars and nightclubs often staying open til dawn.

Unlike 95% of USA where the blue noses and puritans tell the citizens how long they’re allowed to have fun.

Sweet treats, desserts and candy are a major part of the celebration. Lokum, or Turkish Delight, will be sold in metric tons across Istanbul this evening as the Turks, fifteen million strong in Istanbul alone, consume mass quantities of the unfathomably delicious candy.

Altan Sekerleme, the ancient, Ottoman-era sweet shop, will probably do more business in the next 3 days than they did in the previous 3 months.

¬†Tonight, Istanbul municipality will stretch a banner between the minarets of the Blue Mosque that reads Sevelim Ve Sevilelim or Let Us Love, Let Us Be Loved. I’d give anything to be there.

Here in Austin, Texas we are starting to see some markets open that cater to our Muslim community. I called International Food Market on North Lamar Blvd and they informed me that they have a wide array of Turkish goods including Lokum {Turkish Delight.}

1) International Food Market 11331 North Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78753 (512) 491-8282. This market is near where the development of north Austin ends and actual woods begin. Well stocked and open late.
2) Phoenicia Bakery on Burnet Road affirmed that they also have Lokum, as well as a coterie of other sweet treats from the region.
Phoenicia Bakery 4701 Burnet Road, Austin, TX 78756 {512} 323 6770. As we all know, Phoenicia puts out one of the great chicken sandwiches in Austin. But it’s also a very well stocked grocery store.
3) Sarah’s Mediterranean Grill and Market at 5222 Burnet Road 78756 (512) 419-7605 has always been a good source for baklava and kritsinia. I just got off the phone with them and they informed me that their shop would be a great place to break the fast with a full range of flavored lokum as well as their normal Greek-style pastries.
It’s a little known fact, but Turkey provides most of the high caliber baklava consumed in Greece.
4) And finally I spoke with the owner of World Food and Halal Market and he confirmed that there are plenty candies and desserts including Lokum in his shop at 9616 North Lamar Blvd., Austin, TX 78753 (512) 832-8365.
Istanbul may be six thousand miles away but if you’re part of the Turkish diaspora that has settled in Central Texas you can still celebrate Bayram in style by procuring delicious candies and sweet treats at the markets in the listings I provided.
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About RL Reeves Jr

I'm a writer living and working in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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