Culinary culture of a society reflects its history in terms of all the aspects like cultural, spiritual, economic and political. Throughout the years, Turkish people contact and interchange with many other societies. That is why, Turkish cuisine is like a mirror reflecting all the history. Besides, Turkish cuisine has influenced and been influenced by many countries through trade and other indirect contacts.
As it is known all over the World, Turkish cuisine has got variety of dishes and ingredients. There are lots of traditional courses and drinks. Firstly, I would like to concentrate on some traditional cuisines. Meats including sheep, lamb, goat and chicken are the most commonly eaten. Kebabs are made from all of them. There are various versions of kebap. They are made in different ways in accordance with the region. Döner kebap and şiş kebap are very well-known ones. Kebap culture is the result of Turk’s nomadic lifestyle. The Turks’ centuries of nomadism and animal husbandry paved the way for a kebab culture. There is another Turkish food which were formed as a necessity of nomadic lifestyle: Pastırma and sucuk (cured meat/pastrami and spicy sausage). These meats are also the result of the need of food for long term to keep them longer and consume them in times of war. It is said that Turks have brought some preservation techniques from Central Asia.
Köfte (meatball) is one of main dishes. Köfte can be made and cooked in different ways, and according to how it is made, ingredients and the vessel in which it is cooked, it is called by different names. The basic ingredient in köfte is double-ground meat. Meat can be combined with other ingredients such as bread crumbs, rice, fine bulgur, tomatoes, onions, parsley and eggs, which add flavor, texture and extra bulk, as well as spices and herbs.
Sarma (< Turkish sarmak, “to wrap”) and dolma (< Turkish dolmak, to be filled, stuffed) are divided into two groups, those eaten hot and those eaten cold. These are classified into those with meat, eaten hot, and with olive oil, which are meat free and eaten cold. Sarma and dolma can consist of a filling inside of a vegetable or meat.
Yogurt is another special Turkish food which is thick, slightly sour and easily digestible milk product. It is also a cultural product of nomadic lifestyle. With the addition of water, it turns into ‘ayran’ which is one of Turkish people’s favorite drinks.
Secondly, related to traditional drinks, Water is sacred. It is especially drunk at meals. The tradition of richly decorated fountains, or ‘çeşme’ shows the importance of water in Turkish culture.
Turkish coffee is quite famous. It can be traditionally served in some restaurants and cafes, too. Tea is another beloved hot drink. It is the main drink of Turkish breakfast.
Other popular drinks are şira (lightly fermented and spiced grape juice), lemonade, ‘şerbet’ (fruit drinks) and various fruit syrups which are mixed with water, boza (a fermented drink made from boiled, sieved and sweetened millet or bulgur), and salep (a hot winter drink made with milk or water, thickened with a starch obtained from the tubers of certain orchid plants). In addition to all these, one of traditional alcoholic Turkish drinks is ‘rakı’.
Throughout sweets, of course, there are numerous Turkish sweets which vary according to the region. Lokum (Turkish delight), baklava, kadayıf, helva (made from semolina or flour) are the most well-known ones.
Other then all these cuisines, there is the tradition of making preparation of food for winter. This is a good way of expression of social solidarity. Because, neigbours usually help each other in chores like cutting erişte (homemade noodles), making tomato/pepper paste, pickles and tarhana (type of homemade soup).
In conclusion, there are many Turkish cuisines showing difference in terms of region which have different ingredient and the way of cooking. Besides, there are lots of them not be mentioned because of that Turkish cuisines are very rich diversity. Every people can find their favorite dish in Turkish culinary.
Written and combined by Irem,