Think beyond that bar of Turkish delight you had at your grandma’s – Turkish cuisine is about much more than chocolate – even if that’s a highlight for some. Laced with a wide array of exotic spices and paired with flaky pastry and a variety of meats, it’s impossible to classify Turkish foods as just one type of cuisine. Rather, Turkey offers a variety of choices from a number of European and Asian influences, meaning you get the best of a number of worlds whether you’re touring Turkey for the best bites – or you’re at home, dreaming of your next trip.
Types of Food
Whether you have a sweet tooth or you’re more of a meat eater, a number of dishes are available to tempt your palette when eating traditional Turkish foods. Take world-famous baklava, one of the dishes Turkey is best known for. It’s phyllo dough wrapped around various indulgent ingredients, such as chocolate, pistachios and cinnamon and sugar. But Turkish cuisine isn’t just about the desserts. In fact, while you may associate the food with tender meats, fish and spices, Turkey also serves up fried vegetables, a variety of cheeses and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. Most foods are flavored with various herbs and spices, offering more flavor so you can indulge without the heaviness of other types of cuisine – a major plus for tourists and those looking for healthier fare while on the road.
Turkey doesn’t only offer a variety of sweet treats and tender meats, but also a number of local drinks that can either help you wind down – or set you up for an exciting night. Take Türk Kahvesi, for example – it’s a strong, dark tea that can be sweetened to your liking to get you moving. Or, try Aslan Sütü, a traditional Turkish cocktail that mixes Turkish liquor with water and ice for a refreshing drink. Cay might be best for winding down – it’s a reddish tea that is sweetened with plenty of sugar and perfect for quiet nights while touring Turkey.
If you have the chance to experience true Turkish cuisine while traveling through Europe, take that chance. You’ll be delighted to sample tastes from traditional Turkish restaurants that serve simple meals with plenty of flavor. If you’re looking for faster fare, Turkish “fast food” restaurants offer a number of traditional dishes, such as doner, a traditional Turkish kebab that is often spiced and served in a flatbread for an on-the-go meal. Or, if you’re looking to sample something more home-cooked, look for restaurants that offer foods such as legumes and vegetables in a stew or bulgur pilaf, a dish not unlike rice pilaf, only made with bulgur. Many foods are served with tomato sauce or yogurt sauce, depending on the dish. Hey, why not try something new when you’re touring Turkey? If you’re not on the road, check out local restaurants offering the unique cuisine for the exotic taste on home soil.
If you plan on cooking some traditional Turkish foods yourself, you’ll need to start with a trip to the grocery store. There, select from the freshest vegetables, focusing on tomatoes, squash, peppers, eggplant and potatoes. Then, make a stop in the bean aisle for a variety of legumes to beef up a meal. As for the actual meat of an at-home Turkish meal, you can go vegetarian or choose tender meats, such as lamb. Don’t forget the cheese – goat’s milk is a local favorite.
You can find a variety of Turkish recipes online to walk you through the making of traditional foods. Often, they’re sauce and stew-based, so you may need some extra time in the kitchen. Regardless, if you have a taste for Turkey, the time spent in the kitchen is well worth the final results and the chance to sample your favorite dishes without ever having to leave your home. You can also check out local Turkish cooking classes to score a flare for the Euro-mix of foods that Turkish cuisine offers the avid foodie.
Whether you’re traveling through Turkey or you simply have a taste for the exotic cuisine, the rich array of foods leave you satisfied and always wanting more.
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This is a post by Ashley Williamson. Ashley is a freelance writer and an occasional guest-blogger. When she is not working she likes to travel and read as much as she can. If you have any question feel free to leave a comment.