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The Joy of Eating in Turkey

Culinary Tour of Turkey

The mouth watering cuisine of Turkey is truly one of the greatest in the world. As sophisticated travelers have discovered, and what Turks have always known, is that Turkish food is not only delicious, but exceedingly healthy, heavy on fresh, fresh fruits and vegetables, yogurts, cheeses, fish and light on meat. Delectable sweets, complex rice dishes and seasonal delights make eating in Turkey sheer pleasure.

With Turkey’s Central Asian roots, as well as with refined influences of the far-flung Ottoman Empire, this is food that brings people back to Turkey.

The freshness of the food is astounding. One can eat at a small café for a few dollars, or go to the most elegant restaurant and the food is always good. From a restaurant above a BP Station to a tiny take out place with four tables in a basement, it is rare indeed to have a bad meal in Turkey.

Even the street food, which I have eaten for over 40 years, can be sublime. Imagine lightly battered mussels fried on a stick and covered with a tasty garlic sauce. Or lamacun, surely the precursor of pizza, its thin crusty rounds of delicate crust covered in finely chopped tomato, onion, parsley and minced lamb. Sheer heaven and for pennies!

A Turkish meal always starts with meze, tiny little plates of tasty morsels such as ezme, which my friends insist on calling “red stuff” and is made from the pulp of tomatoes with olive oil, garlic, lemon, parsley and red pepper. Spooned over hot bread, it is addicting. And then perhaps borek, small meat or cheese filled pastries, delicate and light, or an all time favorite, coban salatasi, which is translated as shepherd’s salad. Made from a simple mixture of fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and parsley with a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice, it is a refreshing and healthy way to start a meal.

And then perhaps, a small dish of eggplant with yogurt sauce, or eggplant with tomatoes or eggplant made in any of the hundreds of ways the Turks have created to please your palate.

And that is just the beginning, you move on to succulent grilled fish or lamb, rice dishes and more vegetables. Obviously the Turks don’t just gulp these down, they believe one should take hours to devour this much food and not being glutinous, they have small portions.

And honey! Did I mention honey? Absolutely the world’s best comes from the shores of the Aegean where the bee keepers take their bees to feed on the sweet yellow fuzz of the pine blossoms. Dark and rich, it is never cloyingly sweet like clover honey or other varieties.

Would you like to know more about Turkish food? The best Turkish cookbooks we have found are “Classic Turkish Cooking” and “Turkish Cooking”, Both by Ghillie Basan and available at Amazon.com  

Let Adventure Travel guide you to good eating when you travel to Turkey. Part of our pre-trip information is a list of our favorite restaurants.