Anyone who knows me knows I love food. The smells, the colors, the anticipation and culture around it. One of the biggest highlights of traveling to a new country is experiencing all the foods and understanding the social norms around dining. Food brings people together, so it’s only natural that one of the best ways to learn about a new place is through eating!
Turkey’s Top Hits:
Traditional Turkish Breakfast: this is served almost religiously in Turkey. It consists of some olives, cheese (usually feta), sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, a boiled or fried egg and some french bread
Doner Kebabs: Sold at almost every street corner, these are cooked on a rotating spit. When you’re ready for your kebab, the guys manning the spit will saw some off into a sandwich with lettuce, tomatoes and spices.
Kumpir: Baked potatoes stuffed with unlimited ingredients – olives, red cabbage, cheese, corn and spices.
Turkish Ice Cream: Unbelievably chewy, in completely new flavors (honeydew!) and served via an elaborate cone flipping show at street stands.
Fresh Squeezed Pomegranate Juice: Tangier and thicker than any pom juice you’d find in America. When pomegranates are in season in the fall, they squeeze them fresh on the street, with a steel press contraption, and hand it over to you in a tall glass, cool and foamy up top.
Turkish Coffee: While tea is almost a religious routine in Turkey, their coffee deserves a mention too. Because they let the grounds settle and serve them in the coffee, it’s grimy, bitter and therefore almost always served sweetened. Patterns in the grounds can be used for fortune telling -once the coffee is finished, the cup is turned over onto the sauce and grounds are left to cool before the fortune is read.
Kokorec: This is sold alongside most Kebab stops — grilled and served the same way, in a french bread sandwich. It doesn’t sound like the most appealing thing, but is absolutely delicious! The texture is soft and crumbly, the liver is salty and perfectly spiced, bread light and airy.
Baklava: When I left for Turkey I wasn’t the biggest fan of baklava, but this trip completely changed my mine. I think the difference is the honey (seriously – they serve honeycombs fresh there! none of the bottled stuff), dripping over the delicate layers of phyllo dough and crumbled pistachios – yum! They also have a version flavored with my favorite food group, chocolate – so delicious.
Turkish Ravioli: Pasta cooked al dente, stuffed with spiced meats, and in a creamy tzatziki sauce.
Ortakoy Waffles: Thin and round, topped with any types of spreads, fruit, and toppings you’d like – chocolate spread, almonds, bananas, kiwis, white chocolate chips, and the folded up in a cone.
But the best part about Turkish food, is how openly they flaunt and celebrate it. Dishes are cooked out in the open on the street, smells mingling in with fruity hookah smoke. Colorful spices piled high behind shop windows, next to rows and rows of powdered Turkish delights and dried fruits. Vendors peddling their stands with fresh juices, turkish pastries, syrup candy sticks, mussels and roasted chestnuts, shouting bargains in fragments of English, Turkish, French, etc.