Muhallebici shop to taste the wetlands of the city opens in Istanbul

A public installation by Cooking Sections launched during the 17th Istanbul Biennial, organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) with the support of Koç Holding last year, Wallowland / Çamuralem reopened in Istanbul and will continue its mission and programme in a new location in Kurtulus neighbourhood hosted by Ek Biç Ye İç. It reinterprets a Muhallebici (a buffalo milk dessert shop) to celebrate the water buffalos and their herders surrounding the city. The installation is embedded in a wider long-term research project by CLIMAVORE x Jameel at RCA into the preservation of Istanbul’s wetlands and the water buffalos that have used them as a home and habitat for hundreds of years. As buffalo found refuge and wallows in the region’s former industrial sites, the wetlands evolved with their help to support a unique and varied ecosystem of multiple species, including a unique bird migration corridor.

Buffalo milk is a historic and quintessential ingredient in Turkish cuisine that relies on the protection of wetlands. These peripheral landscapes to the city are culturally diverse and deserve the highest protection, but as the wetlands become increasingly encroached by urbanisation, Wallowland’s goal is to support this unique ecosystem and for its historical food traditions. Guests are invited to the new space to discuss and taste ongoing research on the history, environmental significance and culinary heritage of Istanbul’s wetlands and the buffalos that inhabit them. Traditional buffalo milk products such as kaymak, yoghurt, muhallebi and sütlaç, will be served alongside new recipes developed through collaborations between the herders and a number of restaurants and culinary institutions in Istanbul. The shop operates as the urban outpost of the wetlands, convening researchers, chefs, herding communities and the wider public. It will platform the ongoing debates and conversation through a public programme of talks and events leading up to Istanbul’s 2nd Water Buffalo Festival that will take place on 16th September 2023. This annual celebration continues to highlight the presence and permanence of both water buffalo and herders in Istanbul.

Part of this project investigates a Season of Wetland Draining. Wetlands, moors, marshes, swamps, mangroves and mudflats have been drained to ‘improve’ land for centuries, despite the importance of their biodiversity, filtering capacity, and buffering against flooding. In the past decades these landscapes have been recognised for contributing towards climate resilience. Can wetlands be the orchards of the future? With 2026 declared the UN Year of Rangelands and Pastoralists, new international focus has been put on free animal roaming space and historical transhumance routes. The wetlands of Istanbul are not any different. Knowledge brought by Bulgarian herders in Ottoman times, and Turks exiled from Greece after the 1923 population exchange, boosted buffalo milk as an essential ingredient in yoghurt, kaymak and sütlaç. Since 2013, the region has seen urbanisation encroaching more and more the lands of the Buffalo, fragmenting the grazing commons as a side-effect. Through the study of metabolic interactions across species the project works to preserve the food and ecological heritage of the wetlands, herders and their pastoralist ways of life. It builds upon existing collaborations with the herders, and the work developed by CLIMAVORE in Istanbul over the past four years.

Wallowland / Çamuralem Muhallebici Shop
Address: Ferikoy, Şeref Meriç Sokak 2-1 A, 34377 Şişli / Istanbul
General opening hours: Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 6pm

About Ek Biç Ye İç

EK BİÇ YE İÇ is a social enterprise that runs urban farms, farm-to-table eateries, and educational workshops in Istanbul. It's mission is to explore ways of creating a healthful, pleasant, and sustainable life in big cities. Started in 2014 in the lower ground floor of a building with a secluded backyard at the edge of Taksim Square--the de facto center of Istanbul--the initiative focuses on food to start conversations on local production, sustainable consumption, and above all, informed and ethical decision-making. EK BİÇ YE İÇ engages with artists and cultural institutions on a variety of projects as host, collaborator, or simply, caterer.

About Community Jameel

Community Jameel advances science and learning for communities to thrive. An independent, global organisation, Community Jameel was launched in 2003 to continue the tradition of philanthropy and community service established by the Jameel family of Saudi Arabia in 1945. Community Jameel supports scientists, humanitarians, technologists and creatives to understand and address pressing human challenges in areas such as climate change, health and education. The work enabled and supported by Community Jameel has led to significant breakthroughs and achievements, including the MIT Jameel Clinic’s discovery of the new antibiotic Halicin, critical modelling of the spread of COVID-19 conducted by the Jameel Institute at Imperial College London, and a Nobel Prize-winning experimental approach to alleviating global poverty developed by the co- founders of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at MIT.

About CLIMAVORE x Jameel 

CLIMAVORE x Jameel at RCA is a joint research initiative reimagining foodways for drylands and wetlands by Community Jameel and Turner Prize nominees Cooking Sections in partnership with the RCA, the world’s number one art and design university. CLIMAVORE x Jameel at RCA reimagines foodways for drylands and wetlands in the climate crisis. It advances ecological networks to produce new knowledge and action towards spatial justice. CLIMAVORE x Jameel at RCA runs two research projects using architectural and artistic tools, education and action to advance ecological networks, produce new knowledge around food and climate justice, that have a real impact on policy-making in the UK and globally.

About the Royal College of Art

Founded in 1837, the Royal College of Art is the world's leading university of art and design. Specialising in teaching and research, the RCA offers degrees of MA, MPhil, MRes and PhD across the disciplines of architecture, arts & humanities, design and communications. A small, specialist and research-intensive postgraduate university based in the heart of London, the RCA provides 2500 students with unrivalled opportunities to deliver art and design projects that transform the world. The RCA's approach is founded on the premise that art, design, creative thinking, science, engineering and technology must all collaborate to solve today's global challenges. The RCA is home to more than 700 of the world’s leading academic and professional staff who teach and develop students in 30 academic programmes. RCA students are exposed to new knowledge in a way that encourages them to experiment. The RCA runs joint courses with Imperial College London and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

InnovationRCA, the university's centre for enterprise, entrepreneurship, incubation and business support, has helped over 78 RCA business ideas become a reality that has led to the creation of over 800 UK jobs. Alumni include such major figures as Dame Barbara Hepworth, Bridget Riley, Henry Moore OM, David Hockney OM, Sir Peter Blake, Sir Ridley Scott, Dame Zandra Rhodes, Sir Frank Bowling, Sir James Dyson OM, Tracey Emin RA CBE, Chris Ofili CBE, Sir Anthony Finkelstein, Francesca Amfitheatrof, Sir David Adjaye, Erdem Moralıoğlu MBE, Bianca Saunders and Thomas Heatherwick CBE RDI. The RCA was named the world's leading university of art and design in the QS World Rankings 2022 for the eighth consecutive year (QS World Subject Rankings 2015-2022).

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