What pretzels are to New Yorkers, simit are to Istanbulians, who buy them from street stalls all day long and munch them between appointments.
They are at least 600 years old—Topkapı Palace documents from 1593 include bulk orders for simid-i halka (round simits). They have entered the language of metaphor. A Turk who hates his job will say: ‘I’d be better off selling simit ’. Protesters trying to dissuade police from breaking up a demonstration will sh