Boyoz is an iconic pastry from Izmir (virtually the only place where it is sold) and a symbol of the city’s Jewish history: It developed among the Sephardic Jewish communities that migrated to Turkey from Spain and Portugal in the 1490s. Spanish and Portuguese Jews initially settled in Constantinople (now Istanbul), Sarajevo, and other Ottoman cities, and did not have a strong presence in Izmir until the 17th century. The word boyoz comes from the Spanish bollos, the plural form of bollo, which refers to several different kinds of baked products or starchy buns. Boyoz is a simple, small, rounded pastry made from thin layers of dough. The original recipe is based on flour and sesame oil, and a few other ingredients; it does not contain yeast, and therefore may be eaten during Passover. The dough is kneaded, folded, and allowed to rest several times before being baked at high temperature. Well into the 19th century, Izmir’s Jewish population was centered around Havra Sokaği (“Synagogue Street”) in Kemeraltı, the city’s historical market district, and Jewish families made boyoz at home. Later, wealthier families moved to the Karataş and Göztepe neighborhoods and bakeries started to produce boyoz. Until recently, all of the bakers in Izmir who made boyoz were Jewish. Today, many pastries in Izmir are sold under the name “boyoz,” but are not made according to the traditional recipe: instead of sesame oil, most bakeries now use sunflower oil. Even though boyoz remains one of the most popular foods in Izmir, and locals consider it a symbol of their home city, most people are unaware that the traditional sesame oil-based version has almost completely disappeared.
The traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.