Cultural Heritage and Turkish Cuisine
Turkey is known for its exquisite cuisines and is known for being quite passionate about food. Diverse ingredients and full flavors make Turkish cuisine very popular and draw influence from a wide range of countries internationally. The unique qualities of Turkish cuisine are rooted in different agricultural products from Asia and Anatolia, numerous cultural interactions, the Seljuk and Ottoman empires’ kitchens, and geographical conditions that have shaped the character of this cuisine.
Its cuisine has a rich and long history and varies widely across the country. The Marmara, Aegean and Mediterranean cuisine are rich in vegetables, fresh herbs and fish. Olive oil is widely used as a cooking oil. The cuisine from the Black Sea region mostly makes use of fish, especially Black Sea anchovies (hamsi). It is also influenced by Balkan and Slavic cuisine, and includes dishes made with maize.
Southeast Turkey is famous for its kebabs and dough-based desserts such as baklava, kadayif, and kunefe, while Central Anatolia has other traditional dishes such as keskek, manti, and gozleme. However, due to the multifunctioning structure of Istanbul's metropolis, almost all kinds of cuisine can be sampled in this city.
In general, Turkish food is soupy, consisting of stock or stew. Thus, bread consumption is exceptionally high among Turks. Turkey's trademarks include Turkish kebabs, doner kebabs, Turkish ravioli, and eggplant dishes. There are over 200 eggplant dishes.
Although Turkish breakfast varies regionally, it is usually the healthiest, most nutrient-dense and the most delicious. Instead of white bread with butter, eggs and olives, Turkish breakfast features green bread, cucumber and tomatoes along with olive oil, honey and cream of milk. It is a popular tradition to consume Turkish bread, corn bread, simit, sesame donut or bagel as a breakfast component on Sunday mornings. This way breakfast becomes a social gathering and lasts longer than weekday breakfast.
Kebabs are the main meat dish in Turkey and can be prepared in different methods, such as Doner Kebab, Adana Kebab, Bursa Kebab, Ali Nazik, and Iskender. They are usually served with rice and greens. An earlier form of doner kebab found its way into Central Asia as the Lule Kebab. Its name was also used in Anatolian travel memoirs of the 18th century.
A meat specialty found in Turkey is kofte, a Persian word derived from kufte. A large variety of meatballs are known in Turkey, with over 200 kinds. It was introduced into Turkish cuisine in the 13th century. In addition to Lahmacun, a thin flatbread served with spiced minced meat, buttermilk is a popular Turkish beverage. Turkey's specialties also include bean soup and rice, generally served in soup form over rice, which is full of carbs and proteins.
Most of Aegean and Mediterranean cuisine consists of olive oil-based salads, known for their dolma (stuffed peppers and zucchini) and barbunya pilaki (red beans in olive oil). Samphire salad is one of the regional specialties. Essentially similar to macaroni in Italian cuisine, homemade Turkish pasta is known as eriste, prepared with walnuts, Feta cheese or combined with various sauces.
Turkey is known for its hundreds of kinds of soup. The basic ingredient in soup is yoghurt. As an introduction to the world, sweet or sour yoghurt became popular in soups. Turkey's tripe soup is quite popular.
The most popular Turkish pastries are milky-based or dough-based. Sweet pastries, such as baklava, are served with syrup. Baklava, sutlu nuriye and ekmek kadayfi are among the best-known desserts. The most loved Turkish desserts are firdana sutlak, keskul, and profiterole. Kunefe, made from shredded wheat with cheese and syrup, is popular in Istanbul, although it is instead an Eastern pastry.
Turkish tea is a staple drink in the daily lives of Turks. It is served during breakfast and most of the day, especially if you are invited into a store. Turkish coffee is also consumed periodically after meals. In the summer, during hot/humid days, yoghurt mixed with salt, water, and sometimes mint is added to make an ideal cold beverage. Ayran is available in bottled or packed form from vendors.
A typical Turkish meal is like a feast. Food is revered in Turkey, so you’ll be surprised at how special it is to be invited for a meal as part of the culture and tradition of the Turkish family. Turkish hospitality is unique and first-rate. Guests are welcomed at a Turkish home with such enthusiasm for food and hospitality that it might seem quite surprising at first.