Boza [bo-zah]. When one talks about it, this fermented bulgur wheat drink conjures up images of winter and comfort. Winter can be comforting, yes, especially when one has a glass of boza. Drinking boza dates back to the days of the Ottoman culinary tradition and today the Turkish find comfort in this healthy drink during the cold season. Only a short walk from the Suleymaniye Mosque, we found our way through the streets of an untouristy neighborhood that led us to the Vefa Bozacısı [veh-fah bo-zah-juh-suh] that has been in business producing and serving boza since the 1876.
Vefa Bozacısı is an old historic shop serving the best boza in town. There are those who come in, drink up in just a few minutes and then leave to carry on their business. More often than not, there are those who take their time to savor the simple pleasures of drinking boza. A favorite way to enjoy boza is to sprinkle roasted chickpeas onto the drink and slurp up. Call it a coincidence, or perhaps call it pure convenience, that across the street from Vefa Bozacısı is a shop where you can buy roasted chickpeas by the weight and then bring the small bag of chickpeas into the boza shop with you. The employee behind the counter continuously fills each glass with this wheat drink as people continuously stream in and out of the shop. We walk in towards the counter with the employee telling us to grab a glass and have a seat. The drink is sprinkled with cinnamon and if you fancy, you can top it with several pieces of roasted chickpeas which you would have brought over from the shop across.
On the wall by the entrance is an old framed article listing the health benefits of boza. Beside being loaded with vitamins, the drink aids digestion. Fine by us-- since our days in Istanbul had been revolving around much eating. So what does thick, creamy, and smooth drink taste like? Kefir and yoghurt.
Katip Çelebi Cad. No:104/1 Vefa Istanbul
If coming from the Suleymaniye Mosque, when exiting the mosque on Prof. Siddik Sami Onar Cd (where the restaurants are), turn right to walk towards the edge of the mosque. At the end of the street, turn left and walk along the curved street with a narrow sidewalk. Continue on. Towards the end of this street there is a large vacant lot on the right. Turn left (a white hostel-like building will be on the left) and then turn right. Walk past the small local shops and take your first left. Vefa Bozacısı is halfway down the block.