I am attempting to do some posts on Turkish culture before I leave the country. At first, I chastized myself for not having done these ages ago, but then I realized, I needed to be here for awhile before I could possibly actually feel eligible to comment on the culture. So here we go. I did Turkish attire in a previous post. Today, I do Turkish food. At some point, all of these will be compiled in an easy to read post. But for now, some information on the food here in Turkey. Of course, it is impossible to summarize the entire food of a culture. Try doing a post on American food, and you'd probably find yourself at a loss of where to begin. So I simply highlighting some of the more popular, and specifically my favorites.
Let me say that I love Turkish food. Eating at a Turkish restaurant is never a hurried affair. There are always plenty of tables. Never a wait to sit. And you can take as long as you want to eat. They'll never bring you your bill before you are ready for it. You usually get tea after you eat, and there are many appetizers and items that come out for you to eat. Whenever we think we should only be gone two hours for dinner, it ends up as four. The Turks rarely start on time, and they are very relaxed while they eat.
Now, for some photos:
Lahmacun. Basically like a Turkish Pizza. I love it. Probably my absolute favorite thing to eat.
Dolmas are a family of stuffed vegetable dishes in the cuisines of the former Ottoman Empires and surrounding regions. Perhaps the best best-known is pictured above: the grape-leaf dolma. The stuffing may or may not include meat. The filling generally consists of rice, minced meat or grain. In either case, the filling will include onion, parsley, herbs, and spices. I am not a huge fan of the dolmas. Don't really like the grape leaf. However, dolmas do not have to be in grape leaves. It's no coincidence that a bus stuffed with people has been named the dolmuş.
These cheese pastries are almost always included with the meal. My boys love them.
Breads, often served with cheese or with butter or jam to dip them in, are very common.
Walk into a Turkish "bakery" or what we might think of as a Deli, and this is what you will probably see.
Adana kebab is a long, hand-minced meat kebab mounted on a wide iron skewer and grilled. It is named after Adana, the fifth largest city of Turkey. Kebabs are usually made out of ground lamb meat though there are regional variations. Most regions of Turkey have a local specialty. This is a great one! You can eat it however you want but traditionally you take some of the sides, pictured at the top of the plate, the meat, and make a sandwich out of it, using the bread.
Turkish delight or lokum. I am not a huge fan, but people must be because these are found in nearly every candy store. It is a family of confections based on a gel of starch and sugar. We can all remember reading out "Turkish Delight" in the Narnia series.
A very typical Turkish breakfast -- nothing at all like American breakfasts aside from eggs.
Mantu are a type of dumpling in Turkish cultures. They usually consist of a spiced meat mixture, usually lamb or ground beef. They are made by hand, in a dough wrapped. 'Manti' indicates either singular or plural. This stuff is awesome! Rana made it for us once. I can't find it in many restaurants in this area, but it is delightful.
Turkish rice is awesome! It looks like this and has more oil than one should consume, but it is marvelous!
A very typical Turkish appetizer plate.
Another view of a breakfast.
A variation on the lahmacun I showed you earlier. You can find these at most Turkish restaurants. They are always a safe buy for Americans, in my opinion, because they are basically bread with meats or cheeses.
More dolmas -- just a different variety. These are stuffed pepper.
Turkish meze often consist of cheese, melon, pepper paste, yogurt, cold salads, squid, dolmas etc. These are often served at dinner or lunch.
Baklava -- awesome!
Tava dishes (often served with eggplant, lamb, or chicken) are awesome. You often eat them over rice, and they are usually served in a pot similar to this. I love them and usually order a lamb tava when we go out to eat.