Middle Eastern countries have a very distinct taste when it comes to food dishes. Their pungent flavors, unmistakable smells and rich colours are what makes their cooking so desirable. However, with the modern world constantly evolving, adaptations have been made to accommodate the new and stylish dishes.
The food that Turkey has to offer is directly related to the ingredients that the country can produce itself, as everything being grown local. In the year of 1923 when the Republic of Turkey was established there became two main branches of food; the Regional cuisine (also known as the folk cuisine), and the Classical cuisine. The regional cooking consisted of using foods that were grown locally to the original place you were from. This combined culture then allowed for lots of different traditional dishes to be formed.
A query people may have when traveling to another country is whether or not their dietary restrictions can be met sufficiently. As eastern countries like to eat bread with almost every meal, including bread and pastry based meals, the most famous dish being pide, it may not be a celiac’s dream come true. Although, being a vegetarian myself, I do not feel as though I am limited in what I can eat here. Many of the dishes are originally vegetable based such as okra (bamya) which is pictured below, and more often than not the addition of meat is actually optional.
The most famous foods that are eaten are of course the shish kebabs. These are the marinated pieces of meat that are barbecued on a skewer and served with vegetables and pilaf rice. There are also many other meat dishes which I have pictured below. The main meats which are consumed are lamb, chicken, beef and fish. Pork however, is indubitably forbidden as it is a Muslim country. When I was younger I used to wonder how they could go about life without ever having tried bacon, before realizing, if they have never tasted it they wound know what it tasted like.
As it goes for drinks, tea will become your best friend (just like the British). Though the tea leafs themselves are more bitter and produce a much stronger beverage. Unlike the British however, no milk is added, and it is not drank out of weird and wonderful mugs, but instead a tiny hour glass shaped tea cup…making you feel like a giant. Which just means you end up having several cups instead of one regular size mug.
Classical cuisine is what I have grown up with. My grandparents live in a very small village near the historical site Troy (Truva) on the Asian side of Turkey. My grandfather is a farmer and has grown almost every crop under the sun, literally. Taking advantage of this, my grandmother makes very traditional food, all recipes passed down from either her own mother or her grandmother. When I was younger I came to Turkey to visit either in the summer time or during the Christmas holidays. She would make replicas of the food her mother would make her, and I would devour the lot. However, not everyone has the luxury of having a “chef granny”, and I (being young and naive) thought that everyone dinned like this. I soon realized this was the case when I would go to a friends house for dinner in the big cities and they would be eating garlic yogurt out of a shop bought carton. I remember thinking, “What is the meaning of this?”. Why didn’t they just go to Ahmet’s farm, buy 5 liters of his cows milk and make their own?
It has only really been the past decade that foods, which would otherwise have be alien to the nation, have slowly fused their way into these classic dishes. This more westernized approach may have chipped away at the authenticity of the food, but the taste of the mouth watering flavors remain untainted. Below are some of my favorites along with some traditional food which I believe have made the cut to get posted here. ENJOY.