Of my favourite Turkish and related foods, the tastes that appeal most aren’t the sweet but the sour ones. Pomegranate sauce, sumac, sour berries, cherries, plums with peppered meats and rich yoghurt.
Jane Griffiths of Delicious Gardens fame has a Turkish ancestor who must have donated her gorgeous curly red hair, as well as her taste for Ottoman foods. These she combines with vegetables, fruits and herbs from the said garden.
She mentioned finding something called isot biber at a place near Crown Mines and trying it in a salad with roasted walnuts. The Turks use lots of different bibers or peppers in their foods. I whimpered for the address.
So it is that Pawel and I stare at an unlikely-looking warehouse with a big sign declaring, “Sweetmart – the Sweetest Relationship”. Inside, supermarket trolleys trundle around, filled with bumper packs of Strawberry Frogs, Spiral Ropes, Wady Sticks, Sticky Apple and Berry Straws.
Some of the women in Chanel-like black and pink robe and scarf combinations could be Turkish, but not many of the other customers are. A housewife tells me that she’s stocking up for the month. Four small blonde siblings are each pushing a big, sweet-filled trolley to the check-out.
Near the tills I spy pide bread. It’s a clue. In a nearby, relatively tiny section of this Willy Wonkadom, I find large packets of sumac, paprika flakes and bibers galore – red, black, yellow and white.
There are glut-bags of every kind of nut, including almond and apricot kernels, outsize whorls of tightly packed olives, freshly packaged mint, sage and linden teas, mixed dried berries, cubed (!) blueberries, star kashka, black-carrot juice, mulberry molasses, roasted spinach preserve and four-kilogram jars of tahini. Everything is less than half the usual price.
But where’s Pawel?
He and the owner, a man from Ankara, have struck up an unusual conversation in a skin-products section – a shop-within-a-sweetie-warehouse. Against a backdrop of beautifully packaged rose attar potions and argan oil creams, Mehmet Kipel is saying slowly in Polish, “You are my friend.”
Pawel is buying his rather delicious Turkish cologne called Man.
We leave without that isot biber but with loads else, including a “sweetest relationship”.
Sweetmart: 1 Genesis Boulevard (a tiny extension of Coach St), cnr Renaissance Rd, Crown Mines. For more information, call
Each week Marie-Lais scouts another urban reach, tasting, testing alternative aspects to pique our curiosity about places and people we might have had no idea about.