The economic crisis and spiraling price rises in Turkey have forced street vendors to sell their iconic bread koulouri, or as Turks call it “simit”, cut in half.
Turkish citizens are having increasing difficulties coping with the rising prices of almost every item amid high inflation and the depreciation of the national currency.
The Turkish currency th elira has lost about 40 percent of its value this year against the US dollar, while annual inflation hit almost 20 percent in October.
Koulouri, or simit, a circular bread coated with sesame seeds, is the best product made to appreciate the simplicity of taste. Much like the ubiquitous bagel in the West, it is one of the most traditional snacks in both Greece and Turkey.
Although it does not have a registered designation of origin, the sesame-seed-coated koulouri has been identified with the city of Thessaloniki as its history began during the period of the Byzantine Empire and it mainly appeared thereafter in Istanbul and Thessaloniki.
In Istanbul the vendors of the koulouri (called koulourtzides) trumpeted their merchandise with the name “koulouri of Thessaloniki” and much later the same name was used by the street vendors in Attica.
Today, in Greece and Turkey, koulourtzides frequent in places where crowds pass, normally central parts of the cities, in order to sell their koulouria. They carry them in big baskets and sell them either straight out of the basket or out of carts enclosed in glass.
Crisis in Turkey
Despite the crisis in Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is vowing to continue the same financial policies as he has in the recent past. He has declared himself an “enemy” of high borrowing costs, and portrayed his economic policies as “an economic war of independence.”
He made clear that his government would not step back from its policy of lowering borrowing rates to boost growth.
Contrary to traditional economic theory, Erdogan argues that high interest rates cause inflation. Typically, central banks raise those rates to tame rising consumer prices.
“Either we were going to give up on investments, production, growth and employment by keeping to the understanding that has prevailed in our country for years, or we were going to engage in a historic struggle in line with our priorities,” Erdogan said.
“As always, we preferred the struggle.”