Turkish Food & Social Stratification
Food in Daily Life
It is famous for its stews of vegetables and meat (primarily lamb and beef); borek, kebab, and dolma dishes; and sourdough bread, which is enjoyed with almost every meal.
There are many layers of dough inside a borek, which is often sprinkled with cheese, spinach, and ground meat. The word "kebab" is used for meat skewered or grilled in pieces or slices.
In Turkish cuisine, dolma is a dish composed of vegetables (like tomatoes and peppers) and leaves (such as grape leaves, cabbage leaves, and eggplant leaves) stuffed with or rolled around rice or bulgur pilaf, ground meat, and spices. It's no surprise that Turks love eggplant.
Turkish breakfasts often consist of hot soup and bread during the winter. Their favorite meals during the warmer months include a variety of bread and jam, hard-boiled eggs, a white cheese made from sheep's milk, salty olives, and hot milk with milk.
The traditional midday meal consists of vegetable and meat stews with rice or bulgar pilaf, plus salad and fruit for dessert. As a substitute for the stew, you may use borek or dolma. On special occasions, baklava is served as a dessert.
Most evenings, the dinner is a lighter meal consisting of leftovers from the lunch or kebabs served with salad. Lunch and dinner are typically accompanied by only water.
Food Preferences & Preparations
Depending on the region and ethnicity, regional food preferences vary. As an example, Black Sea cuisine favors fish, especially anchovies, while Eastern cuisine favors spicy foods. While the cuisine of the Caucasians is well known for preparations such as chicken in walnut sauce, the cuisine of Georgia is characterized by thick cornbread and corn soup.
In the past, Armenians occupied the southeastern provinces which gave rise to Lahmacun, or Armenian pizza.
In every city, there are many Turkish restaurants and snack bars. Many Turkish restaurants specialize in one or two foods, such as kebabs, soups, meat wraps made with asks (a flatbread), pastries, and fish. Several restaurants serve a wide selection of food, including stews, pilafs, vegetables, and desserts.
Many working men eat breakfast and dinner at home because they can't afford expensive restaurants. Females and families are generally segregated in higher-class restaurants.
Islam forbids Muslims from eating pork, which is a major taboo in Turkey. In spite of the Koran's prohibition of alcohol, many Turks consume beer, wine, and liquors. Even though their religion does not prohibit other foods, certain segments of the Muslim population consider them taboo.
In the past, nomadic Turkish people called Yürüks avoided all seafood but fish. Rabbits menstruate, which makes them unsuitable for the Alevi sect of Islam. According to Turks in Balikesir, the Koran forbids eating snails an opinion that is incorrect.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions
During holy days and celebrations, special dishes are served. A special dish served in Gaziantep for the first day of Ramadan is yuvarlama (a ground meat and rice mixture with chickpeas, onions, spices, and yogurt). Lamb kebab served with tomato and borek is the special meal for this celebration in many southern provinces.
Many households prepare a pudding called Ashure for the holy month of Ashure, which follows Ramadan. Guests, neighbors, and friends can enjoy it. In accordance with tradition, Ashure must contain a minimum of fifteen different ingredients, including peas, beans, almonds, cereals, rice, raisins, rosewater, dried pomegranate seeds, orange peel, figs, and cinnamon.
Many wedding celebrations in Turkey include wedding soup, which includes chopped lamb meat, egg, flour, butter, and lemon juice.
The Turkish drink list also includes tea taken regularly throughout the day, coffee mostly taken after meals, ayran (buttermilk), boza (a fermented bulgur drink consumed in the winter), and rakî (an aniseed-flavored brandy).
Beer gardens in major cities have become popular hangouts for men, and carbonated drinks have become popular with young people.
Social status is largely determined by wealth and education. In terms of basic social categories, we can identify the wealthy urban educated class, the middle class in urban areas, the lower class in urban areas, and the general rural population.
An urban educated class consists of a variety of subgroups, of which a university education is the minimum requirement.
Classes and Castes
You can draw distinctions between the upper and middle classes in urban areas. Education, political influence, and wealth determine the status of members of the urban upper class.
Become a successful businessman or woman, become a minister in the cabinet, or become a member of the assembly. You can even become a director of an important government department or other high-ranking official.
The new business elite has been challenging the old military-bureaucratic elite since World War II. A majority of upper-class members in the urban settings are well-culturalized; most speak at least one Western language, have good knowledge of European or American culture and keep close contact with diplomats and foreign businessmen.
In addition to civil servants, owners of small and medium-sized businesses, many business owners and professionals as well as students, the urban middle class includes most skilled workers and some skilled workers.
The lower class tends to be less westernized and has more Turkish cultural values. Most of the upper strata of provincial cities are also included in the urban middle class. Urban educated people have a high level of mobility.
Low-paid service workers, unemployed urbanites, and semi-skilled and unskilled laborers make up the urban lower class. Young villagers are migrating to urban areas at an alarming rate, becoming the fastest-growing group of urban dwellers.
Some migrants work only seasonally, while others find it difficult to find jobs. Shady towns surround major cities, and many live-in poverties. With rural populations on the rise and urban industries offering higher incomes, urbanization continues.
A third of the population consists of rural farmers, often referred to as peasants. Through improvements in communications and transportation, they have become more in touch with towns and cities. In spite of education efforts, the literacy rate in rural areas stood at only 61 percent in 1995.
The traditional clan chiefs and religious leaders are still dominant in some eastern rural areas. A villager who migrates to the city cannot rise to the middle class without an advanced education.
Symbols of Social Stratification
Almost all males, no matter their social standing, dress in Western-style clothes, including trousers, shirts, and jackets. Fashion trends in Western countries are popular among upper- and middle-classes in urban areas.
As well as living in luxury apartments, they also try to procure Western luxury items. These items include cars, electronics, cell phones, and computers. Western literature and music have become favorites, and they attend concerts and plays.
Higher education is more popular among the upper class while the middle class prefers standard Turkish educational institutions. A standard Turkish dialect of Istanbul is preferred by both classes.
Shady towns serve as a home to most urban poor. Less than half of the population has graduated from high school (LISE). Even in summer, the women tend to wear traditional conservative clothing, including head scarves and long coats.
Music from the region is popular among them. In terms of dress, styles, languages, and music, the rural and peasant classes tend to be least exposed to Western and urban influences. Turkish is spoken with regional accents and grammatical peculiarities by these groups, as well as by the lower urban classes.
In this region women wear baggy pantaloons with head scarves; they wear conservative peasant clothing.
Gender Roles & Statuses
Women are now allowed access to almost all educational programs and occupations in Turkey because of the country's equal pay law. The only exception is the school that trains imams (those who lead religious prayers in Islam) and the job of the imam himself.
Women are disproportionately represented in high-status professions and government but men dominate business, the military, and academia. As per traditional values, women should do domestic work and shouldn't work with men unrelated to them or in the public sphere.
However, more and more women are working in public.
Division of Labor by Gender
Women of lower income have historically performed a wide range of jobs, including housecleaning, women's tailoring, seamstresses, child careers, agricultural laborers, and nurses. In the late 1990s, about 20 percent of factory workers and many store clerks were women.
Teachers, bank tellers, and lawyers are among the jobs common to middle-class women, while doctors, lawyers, engineers, and university professors are among the jobs common to upper-class women. There are fewer women in politics than men.
These occupations are performed by men, while their female counterparts usually avoid non-agricultural jobs. Pilots and cabbies, truck drivers, and bus drivers are all dominated by men in the military and in transportation occupations.
Low-paying service industries and crafts are the main jobs for lower-class men working in urban areas. Among middle-class men, businessmen, accountants, and middle-management positions are common. Teachers, professionals, businessmen, and entrepreneurs from upper-class backgrounds are among the men who work in universities