Turkish Food: The Great Simit Gevrek Mystery

Welcome to our second instalment of Turkish Food Photo Friday. Last week, we took you back to our trip to Izmir where we enjoyed a famous Turkish street food, nohutlu pilav. This week, we are again alluding to Izmir and one of Turkey’s most famous foods; the simit.

The Simit / Gevrek Mystery

“Simitçi. Simitçi. Taze gevrek!” This is the call of the simit sellers who plod around the streets of Fethiye on a daily basis and we’ve never really thought too much about the ‘gevrek’ part of the call. It’s always just been a matter of, well that’s what the simitçi shouts.

In the grand scheme of our life in Turkey, we’ve only discovered the joy of simit relatively recently and are now true simit converts. While we were in Izmir, it was our daily brunch before setting off for a day’s exploration – except in Izmir, the simit is the gevrek.

Turkish Street Food - Izmir Gevrek

A gevrekçi in Karşıyaka, Izmir

Everywhere we went, bakeries and street sellers were advertising themselves as Gevrekçi. The word simit was nowhere to be seen. Now, the gevrekçi was also selling sandwiches made from the same bread – and this same bread was also used for our Çeşme kumrusu, so we formed the opinion that maybe ‘gevrek’ is the type of bread and ‘simit’ is the shape of the bread.

For the purposes of this blog post, we decided to pose the gevrek/simit question to our Google+ Turkish Food Community, completely expecting a definitive answer that we could write about here. And that’s where things got curiouser and curiouser…

Turkish Food Community On G+

Posing the question in our Turkish Food Community – ignore the typo

A couple of replies suggested that the two words are interchangeable and gevrek and simit are in fact the same thing. Yes, we were happy with that. Makes sense to us… but what about our bread theory? That didn’t fit, really. And then another suggestion was added to the mix:

  • The simit and gevrek are different because a simit is twisted as it is rolled.
  • Gevrek is just a ring but the baking method is different. Gevrek is baked twice to make it crispier.

Well, we have to say, the simits (or should that be gevrek?) in Izmir were particularly tasty and a different texture to the ones we’ve tried in Fethiye. And we’ve had twisted simits in Fethiye from our local bakery. Are they true simits, then, because they’re twisted? If you look closely at the photo above, the gevrekçi is selling both twisted and non-twisted variations. Is that simit and gevrek, we wonder? But the curiosities didn’t end there…

Fethiye Simit

A Fethiye simit

We asked a friend here in Fethiye and he said gevrek is usually darker than simit and that’s because pekmez (grape mollases) is added to the dough when making gevrek.

And then we also owe a debt of gratitude to Özlem of one of our favourite blogs, Ozlem’s Turkish Table, who not only contributed her own suggestion but also went to the trouble of emailing one of her friends in Izmir to see what they thought. Their offering added a regional context and apparently, the Istanbul simit is different to Izmir’s because the dough is more yeasty in the Istanbul variety. The Istanbul simit is well known for being different to other simits because it is soft on the inside and crispy on the outside.

So, we can’t say we’re none the wiser after our little simit/gevrek investigation. No, we are definitely wiser…because we now know there are multiple theories as to the similarities and differences between the simit and gevrek! We shall continue this investigation in due course.

  • If you’re a fan of the cuisine of Turkey, we’d love to see you over at our Google+ Turkish Food Community.
  • Have you got a simit/gevrek theory? We’re open to all new ideas and would love to read your comments in the comments section below.

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  1. gevrek means – crisp, brittle, friable; a kind of melba toast flavored with aniseed. So I would thing that a crisp simit would be a gevrek. I lived in Ankara and our simits were always soft and chewy, so I would not consider them gevrek.
    there is even a gevrek gevrek gulmek – meaning to laugh heartily
    from Slovoed app dictionary.

  2. @ Cheryl: Thanks so much for your comment. Interesting. That backs up the double-baked theory for gevrek and interesting that the Ankara simit is soft and chewy…and therefore not gevrek. Love the gevrek, gevrek gülmek! 🙂

  3. Let me echo Cherly’s comment. You can also go to a “simitci” and ask whether the simits are “gevrek or not” instead of asking whether they are crisp or not.

    Then again, Izmir has its own vocabulary! Dari (corn), asfalya (fuse box), cigdem (sunflower seeds), klorak (detergent) are words you might only hear in Izmir.

  4. This is brilliant Julia, and learning something new every day :)My feeling is that both the dough as well as the baking technique of gevrek and simit differs, as gevrek, I was told, baked twice. How I wished to check them out hands on in both locations!! I will be in Istanbul in Feb and will be having a up close look at simit 🙂 many thanks for your kind mention:)

  5. I learned something new today….my husband is from Izmir and I never heard call that simit anything else. But I will ask him later.
    Every Saturday he goes to a Turkish bakery we have here in Toronto and stocks up on simits for the week…..he is like obsessed with them. I guess like I always eat Wonder Bread.
    Thanks for sharing this post…very interesting. I’ll be in Izmir in about 3 months and will check this out the difference of textures of these lil’ Turkish jewels :-)Because I sure didn’t know this.

  6. this is the first i have heard of gevrek. i just made simit for the first time and we all love it. we just had them for breakfast this morning.

  7. @ Efe Sevin: Yes, we’ve heard lots about the Izmir vocabulary. 🙂 Thanks a lot for your comment. Think we’re starting to understand the difference now. 🙂

    @ Ozlem’s Turkish Table: Yes, we’ve definitely learned a thing or two about the simit of late! 🙂 Someone else also said about the pekmez, too, for making the gevrek darker and more crispy.

  8. @ Erica (Irene): Think we’ve all been on a learning journey re the simit and gevrek. Yes, would love to hear what your husband says about it all. 🙂

    @ Jaz: Great that you’re making your own simits. I guess it’s not worth our effort here as they’re so readily available everywhere and cheap. 🙂

  9. Hello TFL. Izmir simply has a vocabulary of its own! And they say gevrek instead of simit. Gevrek in Turkish means crisp and is used for anything that is crisp. And Istanbul simit is THE best.

  10. @ Engin: Hello to you, too and thanks for your comment. You’re the second person to tell us about Izmir’s special vocabulary, so we guess it’s famous. 🙂 We loved the gevrek in Izmir so next time we’re Istanbul, we’ll try a simit and compare them. Will let you know what we think. 🙂

  11. A very nice post on simit and gevrek! I’m not from Izmir, but I have friends from there. They say that the words simit and gevrek are actually the same, but Izmir people always prefer to call it gevrek. It is just used in Izmir. There is another word like that. They prefer to call sunflower seeds as “çiğdem” unlike people in other cities, who call it “çekirdek”.

  12. BTW did you see that I tried to make simit at home some time ago? It is not as difficult as it is thought.

  13. we make gevrek in Macedonia as well:) I have never been to Izmir, and when I went to Istanbul I tried simit, thinking it is the same thing, but realised I was wrong as “our” gevrek is much more crispy and darker. I have many Turkish friends and I was telling them we make pastry called gevrek that I am sure comes from Turkish cusine abdlooks like simit, but none had even heard about it. Finally, when I asked a friend from Izmir, she understood very well what I was talking about:)

  14. @ Zerrin: Think we remember that post. Quite like the idea of making our own just to see what it tastes like but they’re so yummy from our local bakery, I can’t decide if it’s worth the effort. 🙂

  15. @ Zerrin: Thanks. Interesting that these comments show a lot of different thoughts about the similarities and differences between simit and gevrek. 🙂

    @ Anonymous: Thanks a lot for your comment. Always good to read about foods crossing over between different countries – and interesting you call it gevrek, too. Looking forward to buying a simit next time we’re in Istanbul. 🙂

  16. Gevrek is the name Izmirli call for simit. Every region and city in Turkey have simit and they are different from each other. Only in Izmir, simit is called as gevrek.

    One can ask for “gevrek” (crisp) when he is buying a simit. I think gevrek name at Izmir is derived from this.

  17. @ Anonymous: Thanks for your comment on this fascinating subject. We have gevrek in Fethiye, too but it’s used at the same time as simit so we think they’re the same here…maybe gevrek is crispier. 🙂

  18. As an amateur chef, I speculate that the difference may be in how the molasses are used. One can either dip the dough in it cold, or hot. NY bagels owe their crispness to boiling too.

    • Hi Emre, thanks a lot for that. We suspected it might be something to do with the molasses but had no idea about the hot and cold theory. Think we need to go to a simit place and watch all the simits being bakes to see what they do. 😉

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