Turkey: Food and Drink
Bridging the East and West
Food in turkey is a blend of Persian, Greek, Mediterranean and Arabic influences. Turkish food is very healthy, with a great deal of emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables, salads and dry fruits. The street food of Turkey is excellent as well, with many people hardly venturing into restaurants owing to the sumptuous street food available in different parts of the country. Meals in Turkey are long, drawn affairs, especially dinner, and can last for a good 3 hours! Appetizers are an important part of any Turkish meal, and consist mainly of fresh and pickled vegetables, braised and sautéed vegetables, seafood and chicken salads, vine leaves stuffed with rice, and a variety of nuts. The main course is usually full of flavors and spices, a far cry from the appetizers. Koftas which are spicy lamb meatballs and kebabs which are small pieces of meat, chicken and fish marinated in a concoction of spices and yogurt, are essentials to any Turkish main course. In addition to this delicacies like grilled meats and seafood, and stewed vegetables and meat are quite popular. Meze is another popular Turkish delight. Made up of several smaller dishes, Meze is a variety of deep-fried squid, yoghurt mixed with garlic (cacki), aubergine puree, stuffed vine leaves( dolma) and baked vegetables washed down with a bottle of raki(an aniseed based spirit, known locally as aslan sut). Meals are usually rounded off with fruit, Baklava (a locally made Turkish sweet meat) and Sutlac which is a rich rice pudding and coffee. Wine, beer and Raki or lion’s milk are the favorites when it comes to drinks in Turkey. Popular non-alcoholic beverages include ‘ayran’, a yogurt based salt and water mix, fresh fruit juices and milks.