The Food of Turkey
You can tell a lot about a country with the food that they eat. The food is one of the best things about visiting a new country where you have not been before, and there can be a world of delights waiting for you on your next trip. You can find plenty of cheap hotels in Turkey and also plenty of cheap food as well which tastes great. Turkey is where east meets west and this shows also in the food that they eat as well as the customs of the people as well. Turkey is a melting pot of lots of different customs and traditions made up of influences from the Ottomans, Middle Eastern, Central Asian and also Balkan. This gives Turkish cuisine a unique taste and appearance and is a perfect blend of influences and tastes.
In Turkey, they prefer a pretty simple breakfast which can consist of any of the following;
- Cheese, Butter, Eggs
- Tomatoes, Olives, Cucumbers
- Jam, Honey
Another popular dish for breakfast is called Kaymak which is similar to clotted cream. You can get a mixture of all of the above or just one or two items which are put together for the morning meal. Soups are very popular for breakfast. Sujuk is a spicy sausage which originates from Bulgaria and Armenia which was adopted by Turkey a long time ago. Just as, sausages are a popular breakfast food in the west, so too in Turkey do they like their sausages for breakfast, although these ones are a lot spicier than even the normal Cumberland sausage that are available in your normal supermarket.
Traditionally there are a lot of areas in Turkey which would only eat meat as part of a wedding ceremony or other celebration or as part of Kurban Bayrami which is the most important Islamic holiday in Turkey. This can last for 4 or 5 days, and it does tend to get busy but is also a great way to experience Turkey as well as the food that is on offer. As the country is predominantly Islamic, most of the population does not eat pork. The most popular meats would be Chicken, Lamb or Goat which are all eaten readily and widely available. You will tend to find you get a lot of yoghurt served with the meat, and this mixed with all of the aromatic spices used in Turkish cuisine gives a truly wonderful taste. Along the coastal areas of Turkey, you will also get a lot of fish as well such as sardines and anchovies as well as other seasonal fish.
As a lot of Turkey traditionally only ate meat during celebrations, a lot of the cuisine is made up of vegetarian dishes which will suit a lot of people. There is a wide variety of vegetables available which can make up the dishes and there are a lot of vegetable dishes which are considered a main course. A lot of these dishes will start off with a base of chopped carrots and onions which are then sautéed in olive oil, tomatoes or tomato past is then added later. A lot of vegetable dishes, especially ones which contain no meat, are cooked and then served cold in the juices that they were cooked in. This may have something to do with the heat as to why it is popular to eat the food cold as the temperatures can get very hot in Turkey during the summer months.
Breads and Pastries
As with a lot of cultures, bread is also an important staple in a lot of Turkish people’s diets. You have the world famous Kebab which is popular all over and is a mixture of bread, meat and vegetables eaten by hand and very similar to a sandwich. There are also a lot of savory and sweet pastries made in Turkey with a range of different fillings on offer.
Rice is also an important part of the Turkish people’s diet, and there is a wide variety of different rich dishes on offer. The term in English is Pilaf which is a style of rice dish which can be served with pretty much anything. The Pilaf rice does come in a variety of different styles as it can be cooked with meats, tomatoes, chickpeas, eggplant as well as a range of other different foods.
There is a whole host of other foods which are not mentioned as there really are too many of them. The best way to experience them is to go on holiday to Turkey and experience them first hand. If you make your trip coincides with one of the festivals then you can get some truly wonderful food and also a fantastic experience and really get to know the local population whilst you are on holiday.
Photo credit: Carol Beatriz