When considering Turkish food, most people only think of Turkish delight. However, there are infinite more amazing assortments of Turkish food. Before coming to Turkey, I didn’t think about the food very much, so I was pleasantly surprised by the fantastic options this country has to offer.
I have been in Turkey for about six months now, and I have been able to try a large variety of Turkish food. Thankfully there is still quite a bit more for me to experience. One of my favorite things when it comes to the food here is kahvaltı, or breakfast. My friends and I have a favorite little breakfast in our neighborhood and we have made it a tradition to go at least once a week. Turkish breakfast is great because you are served a pile of bread with an assortment of spreads. These spreads includes cheeses, jams, honey, Nutella, and vegetables. Along with these spreads you are served additional side dishes. These can include fried eggs, menemen, and gözleme. Menemen is a mixture of eggs, cheeses, and spices in a skillet served with more bread. Gözleme is a savoury dish with tortilla like dough that is filled with the toppings of your choice. I like to choose spinach, meat, and cheese.
Another great thing about Turkish food is the meat. Because the majority of people here are Muslim, they don’t serve pork, but they sure do make amazing chicken, beef, and lamb dishes. One of my favorites is called dürüm. It is a wrap with slow cooked chicken, beef, or lamb served with vegetables. It is sold at a lot of takeaway places, and is a perfect quick lunch or snack.
Turks also really love their sweets. As I said before lokum, or Turkish delight, is a very well known Turkish sweet. Some of my favorites would have to be mozaik pasta, baklava, and künefe. Pasta in Turkish is cake, so mozaik pasta is actually a cake. It is a chocolate cake with broken cookies inside and can be found at almost any cafe. Baklava and künefe are desserts that require quite a bit of skill to bake. Baklava consists of many thin layers with syrup and usually a nutty flavor. There are many assortments, but my favorite is definitely the normal pistachio baklava. Künefe is another pistachio covered dessert. It is made with cheese baked into layered dough. Cheese doesn’t seem like it belongs in a dessert dish, but trust me, it does!
None of these desserts would be complete without a cup of Turkish coffee or çay, which is Turkish tea. People in Turkey drink çay with everything. If you want to talk with a friend you get a cup of çay. If you’re studying for an exam you get a cup of çay. If you need a little something after a big meal, don’t worry because most restaurants serve cups of çay for free with your meal. Çay goes with anything and everything.
The couple foods I ate that would be classified as strange were actually outside of Turkey. One was in the Netherlands and one was in Morocco. The strange food I tried in the Netherlands was raw herring topped with onions and pickles. I was quite nervous to try this dish because it’s RAW and also the way you eat it is by holding the tail of the fish and sliding the whole thing into your mouth. However, I was determined to do as the Dutch do, so I ate it and it actually tasted pretty great.
The other “strange” food I ate was in Fes, Morocco. It was the peeled fruit of a cactus. It had quite a lot of seeds and it didn’t taste sweet or bitter, but I quite liked it. The fruit is very, very pink and it ended up staining my hands for the rest of the day.
Eventually, when I have to leave this beautiful place, one of the things I will miss most will definitely be the food. Not only because of the fact that it tastes delicious, but also because it is how I really got to know people here. Some of the best conversations I have had while in Turkey have been over the dinner table, and I am really going to miss that. However, I have over three months left, so I have plenty more food experiences to come.