Turkey always had a special charm. His ancient culture is a unique blend of European, Asian and Arabic heritage, an extraordinary combination which is well expressed in the local culinary tradition. And the excellent food offered in this wide and heterogeneous country definetly is a field worth being explored next time you will visit Turkey for a holiday.
The Turkish cookery has its roots in the Ottoman Empire, which in the XIX century extended his rule over a wide range of people and cultures. It collected and refined the recipes of Central Asia, Middle East, Mediterranean area, Caucasus and Balkans. There are few items in the Turkish cooking that can be considered pertaining to the whole country. On the other hand, there are many regional specialities. North, in the Black Sea area, corn and anchovies are widely used. The South-Eastern regions are popular for their kebap, meze and the beloved sweets, as baklava, kadayıf and künefe. The Mediterranean coast is more similar to the South European kitchen, with a great deal of spices, vegetables and fish, while Central Anatolia focuses on knead meals, such as keşkek, mantı and gözleme.
One of the most renowned Turkish speciality is kebap, but there are limitless variations of this tasty product. The most popular is called döner kebab and refers to the vertical spit where the meat is slowly turned until it is well cooked. Specifically, the meat can come from lamb, beef, chicken, and it comes with yogurt, tomato sauce and melted butter, while the typical bread used to eat it is called durum.
Meze – a Persian term which originally meant flavour – points to a selection of starters served before the main courses. Beside olives, cheese and pickles, meze can consist of acılı ezme (a spicy mash of tomatoes, onions and herbs), acuka (with walnuts and garlic), hummus, dolma (a vine-leave roll with rice and spices), and many other items.
Among the desserts, already known in many Western countries is Turkish delight, originally named lokum. Its main ingredients are starch and sugar, but to increase its flavour other additions include rose water, lemon, pistachio nut, almond, cinnamon and mint.