Turkish Food: Chewing On Manisa Macunu

Do you remember last year when we went to the Üzümlü Mushroom Festival and we came across a street seller impressing the crowds by winding sticky, multi-coloured sweetness around a stick? He was doing a roaring trade and our friend told us it was Osmanlı Macunu; a traditional food from the Ottoman times. We didn’t try any on that day because it just looked so sweet. It was one of those sweets best left for the kids to enjoy.

After we did that post, many people got in touch to tell us more about Osmanlı Macun and, when not being sold in the sweeties-for-kids version, it’s taken / eaten / drunk for its medicinal properties.

Manisa Mesir Macunu

Famous Manisa Mesir Macunu

The story goes that Hafsa Sultan, the wife of Yavuz Sultan Selim became ill in the 1500s. When no cures were found, a special paste, made from many herbs and spices, was prepared in Manisa (macun is the Turkish word for paste) and sent to Hafsa Sultan. The cure worked. So impressed with this special paste was Hafsa Sultan that she ordered it to be thrown from the minarets and domes of Sultan Mosque to the waiting townsfolk below and Manisa still has an annual Macun Festivalı (Paste Festival) to this day.

There’s a reason for writing about Manisa Macunu today. Last week, we were given this packet as a gift and, after learning from others that it was a spicy rather than sweet flavour, we couldn’t wait to tuck in to sample it.

This particular packet contained five sticks of colourfully wrapped macun. We tore off the wrappers and sunk our teeth into the sticks. As soon as your tongue hits the macun there’s an immediate zing of black pepper, cinnamon, aniseed, clove, cumin. And these are just a few of the ingredients used. Others include turmeric, aniseed and licorice. The list goes on but you get the picture. There’s a comforting, medicinal yet Christmassy (think mulled wine) flavour to it and we’re Manisa Macun’s newest fans.

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  1. I’ve never heard of Manisa Macun before, but I love its history and healing properties – even if it does taste a bit mediciny.

  2. @ Laurel: It’s a ‘nice’ mediciny though. 😉 Would love to try come more types as this one is commercially produced. I’m sure there must be some places that do the homemade stuff in Manisa.

  3. Hadn’t seen or heard of it before but really enjoying your write up. I’d definitely try some in future. Sounds like it has lots of anti inflammatory ingredients so it might be a nice sweet treat for cramps.

  4. sounds fascinating, I have never tasted anything like it and would love to try, especially the spicy version

  5. I’ve not tried this but will give it a go now, Is it chewy like gum?

  6. @ Cally: Interesting what you said about the anti-inflammatory ingredients. Maybe that’s one of the reasons people like it so much?

    @ Sarah: Can’t say the sweet stuff tempted us too much but the spicy macun was really pleasant on the tongue. 🙂

    @ BacktoBodrum: It’s lovely. Not chewy like gum. More like the chewy caramels you get in box of Quality Street – the type where you need to be careful with fillings and crowns etc. 😉

  7. I’ve never heard of this…but sounds like a good medicinal healing property. I must ask my husband if he ever heard of this, but he always tells me he’s been here for so long out of Turkey that he forgets about things.

    Will try this when I visit Turkey this fall….Loved this post. Most fascinating and interesting for me for I learned something new.

  8. @ Erica (Irene): We know a guy like that. He’s lived in England for so long, he’s forgotten a lot of his Turkish, too. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the post and hope you get to try macun soon.

  9. Sounds like Dentine chewing gum to me 😉

  10. @ Petra: Bet the taste isn’t too much different you know. We really like it though. 🙂

  11. sheril benedict says

    sounds interesting ..but i never heard about this before ..completely new to me ..thx for the post

  12. hmmm…sounds very intriguing indeed!!

  13. @ Sheril: You should come to Turkey to find some then you can try it. 🙂

    @ Anjuli: So intriguing that we can’t find anywhere selling it in Fethiye!! We’ve looked everywhere. 🙂

  14. Hi again….asked my husband about the Festival and he said as a little kid he went with his Family all the time…..his Mom always had those ‘macun’. Next time we are there he said he will get some for me.

    Thanks for the post I learned something new. :-)))

  15. @ Erica (Irene): Thanks for getting back with an update! 🙂 Yeahy, glad you’re going to get some and would love to go to the festival your husband went to.

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