The village of Yesil Uzumlu with a population of around 3,500 people is located on a plateau around16 km from Fethiye. Truly breath-taking with wooded slopes leading up to the high mountains surrounding the fertile valley it resembles a large green amphitheatre. A pretty and atmospheric little village full of character and charm Uzumlu offers visitors a glimpse in to the traditional Turkish way of life. As you explore the old narrow streets you're likely to come across old stone houses dating back to the Ottoman period and a lot of houses with overhanging grapes as the village is well-known for its delicious home-made wine from grapes which have been cultivated in the area for centuries. 'Dastar' is a tradition unique to the area and if you look in to some of the shops or open-fronted houses you will often see some of the local women working their looms and weaving cotton wove which is made in to scarves, tablecloths and clothing. Many of these women make a living from weaving 'dastar' and chances are you will be offered a glass of Cay (Turkish tea) as they try to explain and show you how they weave these intricate patterns!
Aswell as 'dastar' the main sources of produce are olives, olive oil, vinegar, tobacco and fig not forgetting the fresh and delicious village eggs, natural milk and yoghurt.
The locals are friendly and welcoming and attach importance to the history of the village, its serenity and peace aswell as natural resources. Many generations have lived here since birth, their origins going back to the Yuruks (Turkish Nomads in Anatolia), the Lycians and Romans.
At an altitude of more than 500 metres Uzumlu enjoys very pleasant summer nights, there’s often no need for fans or air conditioning which is a marked contrast to the coast where temperatures are much higher.
In the center and scattered around the village are a number of restaurants and small lokanta’s serving a varied choice of local specialities as well as more 'european' cuisine. You may be surprised to learn Turkish food isn't particularly spicy but for those who enjoy something a little hot chillies can be ordered as a side dish. Turkish mezes (appetizers) are mostly vegetarian and delicious. Pide, the Turkish equivalent of pizza is delicious too and can also be vegetarian or made to order. During the summer a number of restaurants often organise live music in the evenings, anything from 'Saz', a traditional stringed instrument to soft jazz.
Food shopping couldn't be easier. In addition to the weekly Friday market selling plenty of fresh produce, seasonal vegetables and spices there are several small mini markets in the village selling just about everything you could need.
Turkey has some of the most precious mushrooms in the world and the annual festival is a highlight in Uzumlu. It is usually held at the end of April or beginning of May but the exact date depends on the harvesting of the mushrooms. It’s a colourful and hugely popular three day event where everyone comes together and includes presentations and lectures about mushrooms, the local culture and history as well as organised parades and entertainment, concerts, folk dancing and traditional music. The main street is jammed with little stalls selling everything from beautiful arts and crafts to home-made jams, olive pastes and home-made wine to jewellery, ceramics, paintings as well as ‘dastar’ of course. Guided mushroom-hunting walks in the surrounding
hills are also organized for those who want to search out their own supply of the delicious highly prized Morel mushroom!
One of the aims of the festival as well as being a very popular and enjoyable event is to contribute to the promotion of the development of ecological tourism and to raise awareness of the Morchella mushroom known as Kuzogobegi in Turkish or 'true mushroom', as well as other mushroom types. During the festival seminars are conducted by Turkish and foreign experts about the right way to harvest them and as a natural resource the importance of consuming them consciously.
The mushrooms grow in pine woods and around the plains with a greatly extended season, approximately 8 months. Autumn mushrooms can be found throughout the winter and spring mushrooms can be found until around late May when they gradually start to grow higher up the mountain slopes to escape the summer heat. They are harvested in spring and autumn after the rainfalls. There are many different types of mushrooms, some edible, some deadly poisonous and unfortunately there's no reliable way of knowing which is which without an understanding of Mycology, the science dedicated to the study of mushrooms. It is therefore very important to only collect mushrooms with someone who has an understanding of the different types. Some of the unconscious methods used to harvest edible mushrooms can make them quite dangerous to consume so if the freshness and variety is not known you should avoid eating them. It’s worth noting in some cases mushrooms are 'whitened' using a chemical.
Alot of edible mushrooms have medicinal properties but experts suggest eating them only in moderation.
Here are just a few of the mushrooms for sale at the Festival.
Morchella or 'true mushroom' is rare and only grows in the spring. It grows in and around this area, parts of Fethiye and in some other areas in Turkey too. Aside from its delicious taste the Morchella has medicinal and recuperative benefits for gastrointestinal problems.
Saffron Milk Cap – known as 'Cintar' in Turkish is native to the Mediterrean and Aegean and rich in folic acid and good good for anemia and cardiovascular diseases because it is rich in iron, high in protein and doesn't contain fat.
Matsutake known as 'Sedir' in Turkish is delicious but very expensive. Also known as 'white gold' they are exported fresh and daily to Japanese markets.
Trooping funnel – Clitocybe geotropa – is known as 'Et Melkisi' in Turkish and are truly delicious, widely used in cooking they are a meal in themselves!