Alongside traditional recipes, sellers offer “simple” versions, impoverished, without a few basic ingredients. Like the new roast beef “scent” wrap. But the list is long and includes meatballs, quiches, ravioli and the traditional baklava. Inflation is close to 61.14%, a new maximum for twenty years. One of the causes is the government’s social policy.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) – Wrap (a kind of flat rolled bread) without meat, baklava (a traditional local dessert with sugar and nuts) without hazelnuts: the economic crisis in Turkey and the general impoverishment of society are also affecting street food and some typical dishes of the local tradition. For some time now, in fact, alongside traditional recipes, sellers have also been offering a “light” or simplified version of the dishes, to reduce costs and allow them to reach a wider audience, even if the food is a little less attractive. and tasty. But definitely cheaper.
A restaurant owner from Bakırköy, a middle-class district in the European part of Istanbul, describes the “new” wrap (dürüm) as follows: “Yes, it does not contain meat, but they have enough to eat. At least they smell like meat”. In this case, the cook rubs the slice of bread on the skewers on the grill, to “flavor” the dish, which he then garnishes with tomatoes, vegetables and onions. Accompanied by he glass of Ayran, a drinking yogurt, sells for 10 Turkish liras (about 0.6 euros) and even students can “afford it”.
In reality, a complete traditional dish – with meat (100 grams of kebab) – costs a minimum of 30 lira (1.9 euros) in food delivery apps, but prices can increase depending on the raw materials used. It is a trend that has developed in recent months, which is why now in many dishes, in addition to the original preparation, you can find the economical version accessible to a greater number of consumers. The extreme point came at the beginning of February, when a photo of a bakery promoting “plain baklava” at 19.99 lira per kilo (about 1.2 euros) went viral on the Internet, a price 10 times lower than the market price but without the characteristic mix. chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or pistachios.
The list also includes “poor” toast, simple gözleme (pasta only), meatless stuffed dumplings, simple mantı (a dish similar to dumplings), simple borek (savory cake), etc.
The annual inflation rate recently reached 61.14%, registering a new maximum in the last twenty years which will further aggravate an already critical situation for many families. According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, consumer prices increased by 5.46% in March in monthly terms. The peak is recorded in transport (+99.12%), while food progresses by 70.33%. It is the largest year-on-year increase since March 2002 and is linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, in addition to the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine which has driven up the cost of gas , oil and wheat. Since the beginning of the year, there is no food commodity that has not recorded an increase, even a substantial one, in its prices. And President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself has abandoned the “denialist” policy, admitting to escalating prices while at the same time reaffirming that he is the only person capable of solving the problems.
A report published by the director of Turkey Report, Can Selçuki, corresponding to March 2022, shows that for 59% of the respondents, the income is not enough to cover the expenses. The official press is trying to dampen criticism of the government by citing polls that say 70% of respondents say the economy is “the main problem” and 33.8% only the ruling AKP party and the president. Erdogan are able to solve it. However, among the causes of the crisis are the social policies implemented for years by the executive to maintain and nurture the consensus. It is a policy that has further enriched the rich and marginally benefited the poor, while the middle class, the real backbone of the country, has gradually weakened. Furthermore, last year Ankara was forced to step up social assistance in response to the pandemic and in view of the upcoming elections scheduled for 2023.