Turkish cuisine is renowned as one of the world’s best. It is considered to be one of the three main cuisines of the world because of the variety of its recipes, its use of natural ingredients, its flavours and tastes that appeal to all palates and its influence throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The cuisine originated in central Asia, the first home of the Turks, and then evolved with the contributions of the inland and Mediterranean cultures with which Turks interacted after their arrival in Anatolia.
Turkish cuisine is in a sense a bridge between far-Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines, with the accent always on enhancing the natural taste and flavour of the ingredients. There is no one dominant element in Turkish cuisine, like sauces in French and pasta in Italian cuisines.
While the Palace cuisine was developing in İstanbul, local cuisines in Anatolia were multiplying in several regions, all displaying different geographical and climactic characteristics. These cuisines, after remaining within regional borders for centuries, are now being transported to the big cities and their suburbs as a consequence of large-scale urbanisation and migration towards new urban centres. As a result, the national Turkish cuisine has been enriched by the contribution of a great number of local recipes.
Turkey is self-sufficient in While the Palace cuisine was developing in İstanbul, local cuisines in Anatolia were multiplying in several regions, all displaying different geographical and climactic characteristics. These cuisines, after remaining within regional borders for centuries, are now being transported to the big cities and their suburbs as a consequence of large-scale urbanisation and migration towards new urban centres. As a result, the national Turkish cuisine has been enriched by the contribution of a great number of local recipes.food production and produces enough for export as well. This means that Turkish food is usually made from fresh, local ingredients and is all the tastier for it
A main meal will usually start with soup and the meze, a variety of small cold and hot dishes, which are made for sharing. In many restaurants, a waiter will bring these around on a tray for you to look and make your choice. Tarama salad, cacık (tzatziki), dolma (vine leaves or peppers stuffed with rice), börek (pastries), beyaz peynir (similar to feta) arnavut ciğeri (cubed fried liver) are amongst the many types of mezes found in most of the restaurants.
The main course is usually meat or fish. Turks always eat bread with their meal and main courses are usually served with rice. Typically, çoban salatası, a salad made of tomato, cucumber, parsley and onion, dressed with olive oil and lemon juice, will be offered as a side dish. Lamb is the most popular meat and prepared in a variety of ways, including “şiş kebap” (grilled cubes of seasoned meat on a skewer). “Köfte”, which are like small lamb meatballs and are well worth trying. Those who prefer something hot and spicy should try “Adana kebap”, which is made of minced lamb but with the addition of hot peppers and spices formed around a flat skewer. There are numerous variations and regional specialities of kebap. Somewhat rich but very tasty, is the İskender or Bursa kebab, named respectively after Alexander the Great and the town in which it originated. It consists of slices of döner meat laid over small bites of a freshly cooked flat bread and covered with tomato sauce and hot butter all served with yoghurt. Turks are traditionally fond of stews called sulu yemek or ev yemeği (home cooked) and therefore there are many restaurants offering these foods which are usually displayed in the entrance of the restaurant in large glass displays making it easier to choose.
Fish and seafood restaurants are widely found in Istanbul, other big cities and in the coastal regions. Fish is usually grilled to bring out its natural flavour and there is a wide variety of seafood mezes’ including midye tava (fried mussels), kalamar (calamari), and midye dolma (mussels stuffed with seasoned rice). It is worth asking for the catch of the day but some of the tastiest fish are levrek (sea bass), çupra (sea bream) and kalkan (turbot). Fish is usually sold by weight in restaurants where some customers prefer to make their choice from the fish offered on a large display.