Journey to the Source

Turkish Delight

THE GUIDEBOOK that won top place in last week's Wanderlust readers' poll (the Lonely Planet Guide to Turkey, £13.99) has - to give you a pictorial taste of the country it explores inside - a squishy pink pile of Turkish delight plastered over its front cover.

THE GUIDEBOOK that won top place in last week's Wanderlust readers' poll (the Lonely Planet Guide to Turkey, £13.99) has - to give you a pictorial taste of the country it explores inside - a squishy pink pile of Turkish delight plastered over its front cover.

Apparently, this gooey Ottoman treat was invented by Ali Muhiddin, a confectioner who left his mountain village in the late 18th century to seek his sticky fortune in Istanbul. Feeling a trifle bored with the city's traditional hard sweets, he decided to invent a new kind. "Rahat lokum" ("comfortable morsel") was the result and it's been popularly munched ever since.Muhiddin's original Istanbul shop is still there (the Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir Confectionery, on Hamidiye Caddesi, 00 90 212 522 0666), selling belly-loads of "lokum", as it's known, by the kilo.

If you're staying further afield, however, don't worry: there are plenty of specialist Turkish delight shops in most towns. Simply stroll in and make your choice from heaps of assorted delights: walnut-stuffed, pistachio- dotted, orange-scented, almond-scattered, tea-infused and hundreds of others.

A kilo of Turkish delight should cost about 2 million lira (£2.60). Back in the UK, a very pretty package of 227g would cost £3.95 from Crabtree & Evelyn (01235 862244 for nearest shop and mail order).

So, if you bought 15kg in Turkey and used the profits you made by flogging it off to friends in the UK, you'd have enough to pay for a delightful return flight from London Heathrow to Istanbul on Sabena (£228.30, from Bridge the World, 0171-911 0900).

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