Food is considered by many to be a great way to be introduced to a new culture. So much of an areas identity can be explored by tasting and learning what goes into its cuisine. This has recently led to a major increase in culinary tourism. Mediterranean food is one of my absolute favorites, and Turkish cuisine truly stands out as some of the best. Read along for information on some of the must try foods on a culinary holiday to Turkey.
Amongst coffee lovers, Turkish coffee, is considered to be some of the best. Coffee traditions there date back to the mid 1500s when it was first introduced. It has played an important part since then, and is the crux of many traditional customs in the country. For Turks, coffee has been at the center of both political and cultural interaction. The traditional Turkish coffee house has become a social institution providing a meeting place for foreigners and locals alike. Because of this, it’s a great way to experience multiple facets of the culture while on holidays to Turkey. It’s no wonder that with such cultural importance, the coffee itself would be delicious. Making the coffee involves many steps. One of the key steps, and one that is considered rather foreign to those on holiday in Turkey, is the fact that the coffee is added directly to the pot and no filter is used. The coffee can be served in varying degrees of sweetness, but I prefer it black. One of my favorite parts of the ritual though, comes after the coffee is done. When a guest finishes his coffee he is to turn the cup over in its saucer and allow it to cool. Once cool, the host then removes the cup and a fortune reading is done using the spilt grounds.
Of course no coffee service is compete without sweets and the Turkish have several great options to satisfy your sweet tooth. Options vary for the simple Halva, made from semolina to the elaborate tavuk göğsü which is made from chicken breast and milk. One of the most famous however is baklava. Baklava is made from layers of shredded puff pastry that are traditionally filled with pistachios then baked in a sweet syrup. There are many varieties of Baklava and I’m yet to find one I haven’t liked.
Moving beyond coffee and sweets there are several traditional Turkish street foods that have made their way into world cuisines. There are kofte, which are a compressed meat balls made of beef or lamb which can be served on their own or in a variety of breads. Doner is also a favorite amongst culinary tourists. A combination of beef and lamb are layered and compressed on a spit which turns on an open flame. The meat is then carved and served in thin slices. The simplest and most ubiquitous street food has to be the kebab. There are literally hundreds of combinations possible because of its simplicity. In America the term kebab has become a replacement for the term shish kebab, meaning meat on a skewer. In Turkey however, a kebab is any type of traditionally seasoned grilled meat served on a plate, in bread, or on a skewer. No trip through Turkey would be compete without sampling a large variety of their kebabs.
Now that your starving, mosey on over here for some great tour package options for culinary holidays to Turkey. For more information on visiting, I also recommend a visit to the Tourism Turkey website. There you will find many great resources for deciding where you’d like to visit while on holidays to Turkey.