The Çalış Seafood Products Coop already has a more affectionate nickname for us; the Fishermen’s Place. It rolls off the tongue easily and is fitting.
We go for a walk on an almost daily basis. Sometimes into Fethiye. Sometimes into Çalış and along the beach. Over the winter of 2019-20, our walk to Çalış was not without intrigue. Space was being cleared along the canal and groundings laid for a building.
It soon became apparent, via various rumours, that that building was going to be a fishermen’s coop from where we would be able to buy fresh fish and other seafood. We’d also heard there would be good old balık ekmek (fish sandwiches) on offer. That really was something to look forward to.
Çalış Fishermen’s Place – What’s In A Name?
So with each walk and each run, we glanced sideways and watched as the simple construction slowly took shape.
It was going to be ideal for us. In Fethiye, we can drop by the Fethiye Fish Market to buy our fresh fish should a seafood urge take over us. In Çalış, many is the time we’ve wished we could just go into a nearby shop to buy some fresh fish. And now we have it! The Fishermen’s Place is right on our walking route. Perfect!
But what’s in a name?
We suspect what is already the Fishermen’s Place for us will have various names amongst local inhabitants. Such are the descriptions on the shop hoardings. We have:
- Çalış Seafood Products Coop
- Çalış Fish Market
- Fresh Fish
- Daily Fresh Fish
- Fish From Fishermen (the Turkish version translates as ‘daily fresh fish from the fishermen to the public’)
Well, for us, the fact that it’s ‘fish from fishermen,’ the fact that those fishermen are oft to be seen sat out back chatting and drinking copious amounts of çay, and the fact that the shop is in Çalış; ‘Çalış Fishermen’s Place’ it is.
Service With A Proud Smile
Granted, there could still be some novelty factor at play here. But, whenever we go into the Çalış fishermen’s place to buy something, the guy behind the counter is ready to serve with a big grin. So happy does he look to see and serve his customers.
If we pass by early in the morning and the display is being set up, it’s being set up carefully and with pride. A sight that makes me smile each time.
The display is different every time we visit. Seabass, sea bream and grey mullet (all easily caught in the local waters) are regulars. But many others are seasonal catches. Or you might see a handful of a rarer fish that has been caught.
Sometimes, the display is brimming and abundant. Other days, a smaller catch means a smaller display. This is as it should be. A good fishmonger selling fresh fish shouldn’t have the same fish in the same numbers on display throughout the year.
Balık Ekmek? Don’t Mind If We Do!
If you know Turkish people, you’ll know they don’t like to say no. So you can imagine the look of anguish when, just after the Fishermen’s Place had opened, we asked them if they were serving balık ekmek (fish sandwich) yet. They weren’t.
But we didn’t get a flat ‘no.’ We got a pained look, a pause and then a, “15 days later.”
And yes, ’15 days later’ came and went. As did ‘next week,’ when we asked again. And then, lo and behold! One day, as we were passing by, we got that unmistakable aroma of deep fried, battered fish.
There was no signage to celebrate or inform of this state of affairs. Just the aroma. And then the confirmation. We caught sight of a guy sitting out back by the canal just finishing his last bite.
We were straight there to put it to the test. A bright sunny day sat out on the rear terrace along the canal, waiting for our balık ekmek. Two other customers were already eating further along the terrace. The rest of the tables were taken up by chattering fishermen, stirring sugar cubes into their çay.
The balık ekmek arrived quickly. Deep fried goujons of fish, sliced tomato, lettuce and sliced onion tossed in zesty sumac. Life feels much better when you have a trusty balık ekmek place to head to – especially one where you can also do a bit of seafood shopping, too.
Çalış Seafood Products Coop (Fishermen’s Place) – Useful Info
- The Fishermen’s Place is just along the road from the jetty for the Çalış Water Taxi.
- Local fresh fish is sold as well as seasonal fish from elsewhere in Turkey (hamsi is available in winter).
- If you want to eat there, you can either have balık ekmek or you can have your fish and salad served on a plate. The fish for the sandwiches differs. It can be white fish or sometimes, it’s an oily fish like hamsi.
- If you like, you can also choose fish from the counter and have that cooked for you.
- If you like turşu (pickled chillies or other veggie treats) with your balık ekmek, ask for some as it doesn’t always arrive with your sandwich.
- Çay and soft drinks are also available.
- You can find the Fishermen’s Place and other eateries around the area on our Fethiye restaurants and bars page.