“The provisioning of a great city, the kadi liked to remark, is the mark of a successful civilisation. In Istanbul it was a business that had been honed close to perfection by almost two thousand years’ experience, and it could truly be said of the markets of Istanbul that there was not a flower, a fruit, a type of meat or fish that did not make its appearance there in season.
An imperial city has an imperial appetite, and for centuries the city had commanded daily tribute from an enormous hinterland. Where the Byzantines had managed their market gardens on the approaches from Thrace and Asia Minor, the turks, too, raised vegetables. From two seas – the warm Mediterranean and the dark, gelid waters of the Black Sea – it was supplied abundantly with fish, while the sweetest trout from the lakes of Macedonia were carried to the city in tanks. From the mountains of Bulgaria came many kinds of honey to be turned into sweets by the master sweet-makers of Istanbul.