FETHIYE MARKET – How many people who visit Fethiye’s Tuesday market end up taking home a wooden spoon, pestle and mortar or other unique wooden implement made by Mr Recep?

Mr Recep in Fethiye's Tuesday market whittling a spoon made from arbutus
Mr Recep in Fethiye’s Tuesday market whittling a spoon made from arbutus

There must be thousands of his spoons tucked away in kitchen drawers or used daily to stir soups or serve salads in countries all over the world… and they are not only used in the kitchen!

Mr Recep making a spoon from Arbutus andrachne (Sandal Ağacı) from fethiyetimes on Vimeo.

We asked Mr Recep, “What makes your spoons so special?”

This is what he told us.

It’s the wood we traditionally use to make them. It’s sandal ağaçı in Turkish but its official name is Arbutus andrachne. It grows in many parts of this region and it’s the wood I prefer to use when I am making these hard, long lasting spoons, as well as other things.”

Potential customers look at the catapults - also made from arbutus
Potential customers look at the catapults – also made from arbutus

Splendid trees

In their natural state these splendid trees can reach a height of about 12 metres. The bark is smooth but during the summer it peels off in huge strips, leaving a pistachio green layer, which gradually changes to a beautiful copper colour. The white flowers come in the spring and the extraordinary fruits ripen in the late summer and autumn.

Sandal ağacı - dogalhayat.org
Sandal ağacı – dogalhayat.org

It is these fruit that gives the tree another name, strawberry tree. The red slightly spikey fruit is seldom seen in Fethiye’s markets but on the rare occasions when it does make an appearance it is locally called koca yemış.

What's so special about Fethiye's wooden spoons?

What's so special about Fethiye's wooden spoons?

Musical spoons

Koceks_-_Surname-i_Vehbi

As Mr Recep said, the wood of arbutus [sandal] is very special, so much so that it, along with şimşir [box], is the wood favoured by Turkey’s famous spoon players.

So next time you are wandering around the Fethiye Tuesday market make sure you pop by the spoon man and see what he has on offer.

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