Turkey is one of those special nations, straddling various continents, not only geographically but also historically, culturally and, it goes without saying, gastronomically. In Turkey we find European characters, especially Eastern European, but also Greco-Roman and Balkan; we find Asian characters, both Caucasian and Middle Eastern; we find African characters, in particular North Mediterranean Africa.
The Turkish cuisine is not limited to kebab and Turkish delight as many have the impression. In fact, there is not just one type of cuisine, the territory is too vast and the boundaries so numerous, that we can speak of regional cuisines: Aegean, based on a delicious olive oil and especially rich in plant ingredients, the Anatolian, based on the consumption of pasta and meat, that of the Black Sea, where we find a lot of corn, lots of fish and cabbage at will, and that of the south-east, where we find the famous kebab and baklava.
Yogurt is a basic element of Turkish cuisine. It is served as an accompaniment to almost any kind of meat or vegetable dish. It is fundamental in the preparation of many varieties of meze and for seasoning mantis, a typical pasta stuffed with meat. Also ayran, one of the most common beverages in Turkey, is based on yogurt. It is often used as an ingredient in the preparation of soups, sauces, cakes and pastries. In addition, many varieties of cheese are produced in Turkey, especially with sheep’s milk.
Rice is also very popular and accompanies practically all dishes. In addition to the basic version there are several variations with vegetables or meat. Meat is part of the daily diet in Turkey. Its greatest use is given by the combination of minced meat and vegetables, almost always accompanied by yogurt. As an alternative to meat, which is still quite expensive, in coastal cities the consumption of cheap fish, such as sardines and anchovies, is particularly widespread.
But even a good vegetable dish can be a main course in Turkey. Many types of vegetables are usually cooked, such as: spinach, leeks, cauliflower, artichokes, cabbage, celery, aubergines, green and red peppers, green beans, turnip, etc.
The rich and diverse flora of Turkey means that the fruits are varied, many and cheap. The most common fruits used in the Turkish cuisine are plums, figs, apricots, pomegranates, pears, apples and grapes. Turkish desserts normally do not contain fresh fruit but may contain dried varieties.
If we are talking about desserts, the degree of sweetness of typical products is very high, so much so that on the tables of pastas there is always a carafe of water. Among the most famous desserts, surely baklava: puff pastry stuffed with pistachios, walnuts, dried fruit and honey syrup. Or you can taste an aşure, the same consistency of a pudding. Or, again, the kadayif, a very special dessert, made with a special sheet of angel hair, which is prepared with syrup and pistachios.
Kahve is the traditional Turkish coffee. Coffee is served in three ways: sekrali (very sweet), orte (with a bit of sugar) or sata (bitter). Despite the great popularity of coffee, the number one drink remains tea.
Enjoy your meal!