It was 1996 when I first came upon a street seller who was completely different than others with his white and clean uniform and white cubical box on his arm selling içli köfte. From that moment, we met with Ali Amca (Uncle Ali) every time I visited Istiklal street.
He was born in Kahramanmaras in the southeastern part of the country. He later migrated to Istanbul without money and spent many years struggling to establish a stable life. He then started selling homemade içli köfte, which his wife made.
Written on a white box, “Sabırtaşı” means patience, and taş means stone or rock. Sabırtaşı is an adjective which describes the person to be as patient as a rock, maybe describing a short summary of his life. İçliköfte is a special Turkish cuisine, köfte means meatloaf in Turkish, it also stands for meatballs and “içli” suggests that there is some sort of stuffing or filling on the inside.
Although he opened a restaurant after 17 years, he was busy with the restaurant for only one year, then he could be seen in front of the restaurant building once again.
Uncle Ali passed in 2010 after spending 20 years of his life on Istiklal street, bearing the harshest weather conditions without a single complaint every day and every night of the week. Today his family still runs the restaurant and his white stand with his photo on the sides still stands in front of the building. Enjoy an “içliköfte” and remember Ali Amca.