Our first trip to the completely-awesome Fethiye fish market

When we asked Scout how she wanted to celebrate her recent NaNoWriMo triumph (10,000 words in 30 days—way to go, hon), my girl didn’t hesitate. Her request? A meal at the Fethiye fish market, please!

Our friends at Turkeys for Life introduced us to the market on a recent stroll through town. It blew us away, and we’d been meaning to get down there ever since.

Here’s how it works.

Fishmongers (why does that word make me giggle?) share a central space in the market area, while restaurants with outdoor tables ring the perimeter. You select and buy your fresh-caught fish from one of the vendors and then bring it on over to one of the restaurants. For 6 TL (about $3) per person, they cook your fish and provide fixings for dinner—salad, toasted bread, and lemon/garlic sauce.

I’ll admit, as first-timers the process was daunting.

First of all, the selection of fresh-caught, glistening fish is completely overhwhelming. Tuna, sea bass, six-inch prawns, calamari, anchovies, sardines, mahi mahi, barracuda, and sea bream (a lovely fish I first had here in Turkey), along with other species I didn’t even recognize.

The vendors, often with identical selections and prices, all vied for our business, calling out to us as we passed, urging us to stop and buy. If one of us stopped to inspect a particular fish, the guy selling it would pounce, a ready-to-be-filled plastic bag open in his hand. I’d feel bad if we didn’t buy anything, so obviously I need to practice ignoring people or just saying no.

Scout and I had to take several slow laps around the entire market just to get a decent overview. After a lot of hemming and hawing, I finally zeroed in on a beautiful foot-long tuna for 7 TL ($3.50). Scout liked the sardines, so we got half a kilo of those for 3 TL. That was plenty for the three of us, so off we went for our meal.

The restaurants all look and charge alike, and they all have barkers out front, so we just picked the lady we liked best. (Our meal was fine, but next time we’ll try one of the other places that had offered to serve Scout for free. This place charged for her meal.)

The hostess took our bag of fish, suggested we grill the tuna and fry the sardines (fine), and then took drink orders (two bottles of Efes, a bottle of water and a chocolate milkshake). Within a few minutes, our lovely meal appeared. Both the tuna and the sardines were divine.

Scout’s got no problem chomping down sardines, bones and all, but the fish in this particular batch were too big. So instead she nibbled around each skeleton with surgical precision. (Remember Tom Hanks and the baby corn in Big? Yeah, it was like that.) It took her 45 minutes to get through about a third of the plate.

Everything was delicious, and we will definitely go back.

Next time I’m heading straight for the calamari or some of those large prawns. And I’m going get some of the mezes as well (stuffed vine leaves are my favorites!). At 10 TL for the fish and 37 TL for the restaurant (about twenty bucks altogether), this was a fairly affordable feast and a refreshing change from North America, where fresh seafood is so often a luxury item.

As if we needed another reason to love Turkey!

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