Turkish Food: Osmanlı Macunu

We were chatting with a friend a few nights ago about how Turkey seems to be rediscovering and embracing old traditions. 11 years ago, we came to Fethiye on holiday and smoked a nargile (water pipe), only to be told by waiters, ‘Oh, we have those just for the tourists. Nobody smokes nargile any more.’

On that same holiday, we sampled the delights of kokoreç, only to be asked by a Turkish friend, ‘Why are you eating that? It’s not nice food. Not good for you. I never eat it.’

Fast forward 11 years and nargile is a feature in most bars and restaurants in Fethiye – and it’s not the foreign tourists who are enjoying them (although these two foreigners still partake in the occasional nargile). The same Turkish friend who wondered why on earth we were eating kokoreç in 2000, now suggests kokoreç on a regular basis.

Osmanlı Macunu

kids love the colours of Osmanlı macunu

And then last weekend we were at the Üzümlü Mushroom Festival and as we walked up the street, we noticed a long queue of people. We followed the queue and eventually reached its source. This was a first for us.

A man was standing by a deep metal pot containing colourful, gooey, sticky, substances. He was doing a roaring trade. We asked our friend what it was and he replied, ‘Oh, that’s macun. Traditional Ottoman candy,’ as though it was something we see every day. We continued walking.

We’ve never seen this in all the time we’ve been in Turkey. Not that I would want to try colourful, melted sugar on a stick (I’ve not got a sweet tooth), but I was fascinated by this macun.

Each different flavour / colour is wrapped and twirled around the stick and, as you can see in the photo above, this guy was quite skilled in getting a neat rainbow swirl of colour.

We walked back down to the macun man later on so I could get the video above. By then, there was a younger apprentice who had taken over and his swirling skills weren’t quite as good as the older guy but you can see how stretchy the macun is.

We saw people walking around the festival with their Osmanlı Macunu and it appeared to remain stretchy and gooey on the stick. We thought it would solidify.

Have you ever tried Osmanlı Macunu? We were going to try it but (as you might well be able to hear in the video!) the seller ran out of sticks. We could have returned ten minutes later…but we just didn’t.

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  1. I tried it the first time I went to Istanbul. I have to say, I wasn’t a fan. It was okay at first, but it was just too much for one person.

    Also, the flavors don’t mix well, I don’t think, and it ends up kind of brown looking. I was attracted by the colors, but just wasn’t impressed.

  2. aww, you also need fresh lemon juice to stick the candy once before eating. actually the whole in the middle of the macun holder is for that.

    also when i was a child, my mom used to boil sugar with water to make home made wax for hair removal. and that’s exactly macun, just without food coloring 🙂

  3. @ Stephanie: I don’t think I would have been a fan if I’d tried it. Yep, all colours when mixed together go brown. Hmm, I know we didn’t miss out, now.

    @ Anonymous: Why am I not surprised that the macun we saw had bits missing?! Hair removal – interesting. 🙂

  4. Even with the lemon, I say you didn’t miss much. http://flic.kr/p/7jxqzj

  5. Oh wow!! I would love to have one! Those colors are so cool. Guss it is sugaring….

  6. @ Steph: You’ve obviously not got a sweet tooth either, then. 🙂 Will have a look at the flickr pic.

    @ Belinda: Very sugary I think. 🙂

  7. Never tried it or heard of it before. Will keep an eye out for it though.

  8. @ Natalie: Interesting one isn’t it? We’re in Istanbul a lot and have never seen it but others have. We’ve missed it somewhere along the line.:)

  9. We’re going to Assos for Easter and there is our friend the macun guy there. Well, he usually is.If he is, I will take a pic and send it to you! I have never been tempted to try it either!

  10. It’s wonderful that tourism has brought along a renaissance of Turkish culture. We were at the Turkish festival here in Florida a couple of weeks ago, lots of music, dancing and food!

  11. We love any kind of street food… especially if it’s on a stick. Looks like we might have to make a trip to Turkey.

  12. That looks so cool. I bet it probably isn’t very good for you, considering it looks really sugary. But I bet it tastes pretty good.

  13. @ Claudia: Much to sweet for us, I think. Although we’ve found out there is a spicy version, too. That might be quite nice. 🙂

    @ The GypsyNesters: We love street food too, but we decided to give this one a miss. Will try it next time we see it though.

    @ Steve: I bet it’s not good for you at all .One for getting the kids active I think. 🙂

  14. I wouldn’t be able to resist trying one! I wonder if they’re just coloured or if they have different flavours.

  15. @ Corinne: I think we’ll try one next time but maybe just between us. They look so sweet. I think they’re supposed to be different flavours but I bet they all just blend into one.

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