As those who work with me can attest, I have a strong affinity for mixed nuts or kuruyemiş. I never ate it in the states but have developed my affection for it here in Turkey. You may have seen my previous posts on the significance of kuruyemiş in Turkish life. So it was no problem for me to do a post on the new Çömlekte Çerez ve Şekerleme store in Avanos.
Like most stores that sell my favorite snack, Çömlekte has a complete array of nuts and dried fruit, Turkish delight and assorted chocolates. What makes this market different is that it also sells locally produced, organic food products. You can find all natural cheese, yogurt, and milk, as well as organic meat products like sucuk (beef sausage). If you wanted to try some homemade tomato sauce, or carob or mulberry molasses, they have that also. Add to that their spices, herbal teas, natural body lotions and face masks and you have quite the store!
The market is new in Avanos and of course there’s a story behind the store.
Mehmet Halvurt, who is originally from Malatya, but has lived here for close to 20 years, had worked in tourism since he was 15 years old. When the tourism crisis started last year, Mehmet was out of work…FOR A YEAR. Rather than sit idly by and wait for the industry to recover, Mehmet decided to open Çömlekte.
When he was in tourism he was a carpet seller. “I started when I was 15. Back then Japanese was the popular language as the Japanese tourists were coming more and more. I took a course in Japanese and began selling carpets. Now, if there is a need for a Japanese salesman, I’m among the top 10 in the area,” he relayed to me as we talked.
He explained to me how he uses his skills as a carpet seller in his new shop. “I am trying to serve people to the best of my ability. I don’t want to sell something to a Turk for $1 and sell it to a tourist for $2. It is hard to win customers so I want to sell my products with excellence” said Mehmet. He is quick to suggest pistachios when you buy almonds, and recommends sunflower seeds to go with your peanuts!
For those of you who didn’t know, Turkey is the world’s largest producer of dried apricots. And Turkey’s biggest grower of apricots is Malatya, where Mehmet is from. I asked Mehmet if he got his dried fruit direct from the grower? “Sometimes. I still go to my home to get fruit but the wholesalers are here in Nevşehir so I just get it from here.” He told me about his family’s farm and that they grew almost everything he sells at Çömlekte. “I didn’t become acquainted with apricots in the city, I grew them on the tree.” Even though Mehmet spent 15 years in tourism it doesn’t mean he is foreign to this kind of work!
A MAN OF HIS WORD
Mehmet is a hard worker and loves discipline. When he was young his grandfather and father taught him how to be a man of his word. While I was doing the interview with him a customer walked into the store asking for dates. Mehmet told her “the delivery truck was supposed to be here yesterday. They said they would be here by noon. But I don’t trust him, I’m sorry.” Then he turned to me and lamented “I long to live in a disciplined society, one where you do what you say you’re going to do. My grandfather and father taught me that if I was going to do a job I needed to do it with excellence.” I could see that this teaching he had received as a child had stayed with him into his adult life.
I asked Mehmet what he would like to say to tourists and he obliged by saying “You won’t find a country like Turkey anywhere else in the world. You have the sea, you have mountains, you have forests, you have history. You can make another New York, or Paris but there’s only one Istanbul, there’s only one Cappadocia. Please, come to Turkey. You can sightsee and travel and never finish seeing everything.”
I agree with Mehmet!
Çömlekte Şekerleme & Çerez
Halk Eğitim Merkezi Karşışı (across from the Halk Eğitim Merkezi)
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