Lunch Break

I took this photo while exploring the Kumkapi fish market in Istanbul. The seated man is Serif Çay, co-owner of Itimat Balikçisi, one of about 25 fish stalls that make up the market, which extends along a coast road, not far from the city’s famed Blue Mosque. The market is also home to some dozen small restaurants that specialize in grilling and frying customers’ fish. At around 3:00 or 4:00 p.m. on most days, Çay takes some of his fresh fish to the restaurant next door, where a cook prepares it for Çay’s lunch. On the plate nearest him are anchovies that were sauteed in olive oil; there was also a whole grilled gilthead sea bream—a small, succulent fish usually referred to as dorade in the United States—and çoban salatasi, or shepherd’s salad, a mix of finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green peppers, and parsley. Çay usually invites his co-workers (and, sometimes, marketgoers who happen to be passing by) to join him for his afternoon meal.