GASTRONOMY

Turkish cuisine, which is rich and varied, is considered to be among the best cuisines in the world. It is a nice mixture of an essentially pastoral people’s culinary traditions and acquisitions made by the contacts with other civilizations and the Mediterranean world. The diversity of the Anatolian landscapes and climates have influenced the cuisine which has developed regional styles, while retaining its traditional structure. Istanbul, which is the heart of the Turkish cuisine, is also associated with a “palace cuisine”. Inside the huge imperial kitchens of Topkapi Palace, hundreds of sultan's chefs developed and perfected dishes and pastries with evocating names such as "lady's thigh," "beauty's lips", "lady's navel" or "vizier‘s finger".
Afiyet olsun...! Enjoy your meal...!


Turkish restaurants can be divided into many categories: meat specialities (kebabci, et yemekleri lokantasi), fish specialities (balik lokantasi), taverns (meyhane), Turk-Ottoman specialities (Türk/Osmanli), lahmacun specialities (lahmacuncu), “pide” specialities (pideci), “manti” specialities (mantici), “börek” specialities ( börekci), Turkish pastries specialities (tatlici), pudding specialities (muhallebici). And also the “büfe” for varied sandwiches and drinks. The "simit", which is a sesame seed ring bread sold by street hawkers, is consumed as a snack by the locals.


The main Turkish dishes are the following:

Soups (çorba): lentil soup (mercimek çorbasi), wedding soup (ezo gelin), yoghurt and mint soup (yayla), crushed wheat soup (tahrana), tripe soup (iskembe)...

Hors d’oeuvre (meze) served in small dishes are mostly eaten at dinner:
sheperd salad (çoban salatasi), white cheese (beyaz peynir), vegetables cooked in olive oil and eaten cold (zeytin yagli), fried eggplants (patlican kizartma), eggplant salad (patlican salatasi), cold eggplant stuffed with onion, tomatoe and parsley (imam bayildi), cold vegetables stuffed with rice, pine kernel, raisins and spices cooked in olive oil <(dolma), white or red beans beans salad (piyaz, pilaki, barbunya), chopped cucumber with yoghurt and garlic sauce (cacik), bean paste (fava), fried mussels (midye tava), stuffed mussels, smoked bonito (lakerda), dried anchovies (çiroz), smoked and spicy beef meet (pastirma), spiced liver (arnavut ciğeri)...

Cold dolmas

Variety of mezes

Variety of Turkish cheese

Sigara böregi (börek)


Hot dishes prepared with eggplant: with minced meat (musaka), smashed (hünkar begendi), whole fried and stuffed with minced meat (karniyarik).

Hot stuffed vegetables
(sicak dolma) with rice and meat: grape leaves (yaprak dolmasi), cabbage (lahana dolmasi), green pepper (biberdolmasi)...

Manti is a kind of pasta filled with minced lamb meat and served with yoghurt and garlic.

Lahmacun is a thin round dough base covered with a spicy mixture of minced lamb meat, onions and tomatoes.

Gözleme is a thin dough (yufka) filled with cheese and parsley baked on an iron plate.

Pide is a thin bread dough covered and baked with any combination of meat, cheese, eggs...

Börek is a puff paste filled with meat, cheese or vegetables, then fried or baked.

Pilaf (Pilav) is a staple of Turkish food. The most common versions are the crushed wheat pilaf (Bulgur pilavi) cooked with onions, tomatoes and green peppers sautéed in butter, and rice pilaf (pirinç pilavi) cooked in butter. They both accompany vegetable and meet dishes.

Pasta (makarna) is widely eaten in Turkey and is usually served with cheese, with tomatoe sauce, with minced mint or simply with yoghurt.



Makarna

Kebab with yoghurt


Kokoreç is roast and grilled tripe.

Meat and kebab: on a revolving spit (döner), meat balls (köfte), cubes on skewers (sis).
There are also regional specialities which are spicy: Urfa, Gaziantep, and Adana kebab.
A speciality of rice (pilav) or crushed wheat (bulgur pilavi) is served with these kebabs.
The most famous kebab is the Bursa Iskender kebabi served on pide with a tomatoe sauce, yoghurt and melted butter.



Mixed grilled (Izgara) meat and vegetables with bulgur

Sea bass cooked in tinfoil



Stew meat (güveç) are cooked with mixed vegetables.

Fish (balik): turbot (kalkan), small bass (lüfer), bass (levrek), bonito (palamut), mackerel (uskumru), sword fish (kiliç), sturgeon (mersin), red mullet (barbunya), grouper (orfoz), sardine (sardalya), gilt head (çipura), mullet (kefal), anchovy (hamsi), the symbol fish of the Black Sea, which is used in the making of numerous dishes including borek, pilaf, dessert and even jam! Also prawns and gambas (karides, jumbo karides), squid (ahtapot), calmar (kalamar)...

 
Desserts (tatli): “baklava” (thin layers of puff paste filled with walnut, pistachio or almond paste, and soaked with syrup); “kadayif” ( vermicelli pastry in syrup eaten with thick cream called “kaymak”); “revani” (looks like a baba); “helva” (crushed sesame seeds in a base of syrup); “irmik helvasi” (with semolina); “asure” (Noah’s pudding, made from wheat and numerous dried fruit); “kayisi tatlisi” (apricot in syrup stuffed with kaymak); “komposto and hosaf” (fruit in syrup); “muhallebi, keskül, sütlaç, kazandibi, güllaç, tavuk gögüsü (with thined chicken breast)” are all different kinds of puddings; “dondurma” (ice cream); “kestane sekeri” (glacé chesnuts).

Fruits (meyve): cherries (kiraz), apricots (kayisi), plums (erik), peaches ( seftali), apples (elma), melons (kavun), water-melons (karpuz), oranges (portakal), mandarines (mandalina), bananas (muz), grapefruits (greyfruit), grapes (üzüm), figs (incir), medlars (malta erik). And also quantities of dried fruit and seeds.

Turkish Delights (lokum) have been a part of Turkish culture since the 15th century. However, by the end of the 18th century when refined sugar became available, the sweet confectioner Haci Bekir was the first to use sugar and cornstarch instead of a syrup of honey, grape molasses and flour, thus obtaining a new taste and texture. This smoother and more translucent "rahat lokum" (literally morsel of contentment) or simply "lokum" became so famous that the Sultan Abdülhamit I appointed Haci Bekir chief confectioner to the Ottoman Court.
Lokums are usually filled with pistachios or are safron, rosewater, lemon, orange, mint-flavored. Those of a smaller size are usually the best.
 

Traditional Turkish tea glasses

Raki is served in a cylindrical glass


"Çay" (Tea) is drunk anytime of the day in small glasses.

"Türk Kahvesi" (Turkish coffee) is a ritual rather than a drink. This finely ground coffee can be prepared without sugar (sade), with little sugar (az sekerli), medium sweetened (orta), or with much sugar (sekerli). Turkish coffee is drunk in small sips anytime but especially after meals (never at breakfast), and is served with a glass of water.



Brass Turkish coffee mill

"cezve" Turkish copper coffee pot

Turkish coffee cup


Ayran” is a refreshing drink of yoghurt, water and salt whipped together.

Salep” is boiled milked flavored with orchis plant and cinnamon.

Boza” is a fermented and sweetened drink made from wheat or corn. Can only be found in winter.

Raki” or “lion’s milk” (arslan sütü), is an aniseed-flavored spirit drink which turns white when mixed with water. It must always be served chilled but ice has to be added after water. It can also be taken straight, in this case a sip of raki is followed by a sip of water. Raki is the best accompaniment to cold “meze” and hot dishes, but it can also be taken as an aperitif. Serefe...! Cheers...!

"Sarap"(Wine): there is a great variety of Turkish quality wines (red, rosé, white).

"Bira"(Beer): there is a very good local production.





 




SPORT

Sport is an essential element in Turkey:

Football has a tremendous popularity troughout the country. Among the best teams , Galatasaray is the best-known with its succeses won in Europe, then Besiktas, Denizlispor, Fenerbahçe and Trabzonsport that have the best ranking in the Turkish championship.
At World Cup 2002 Turkey finished 3rd playing versus Korea Republic.





Wrestling is an historic sport in Turkey. Modern wrestling is the speciality of Turkish world champion Hamza Yerlikaya.

Turkish oil wrestling (yagli güres) : wrestlers spread oil all over their body to make wrestling holds more difficult. This sport originates from the beginning of the Ottoman era. It is more and more appreciated by westerners for its mythical image and its rituals. Every year a competition takes place in Edirne where a new “pehlivan” (very strong man) is appointed in front of the President of the Republic.



Weight lifting has considerably developed forming great champions such as Naim Süleymanoglu (appointed one of the five best sportsmen of all times with three successive olympic victories)or Halil Mutlu.

"Cirit": the Turks arrived from Central Asia with their horses, introduced in Anatolia the equestrian sport known as "cirit" or jereed. Cirit is a means of improving equestrian skills, and involves two teams of horsemen, each armed with a dried date, oak or poplar stick. This process of chasing and fleeing, while trying to hit an opponent with a stick, is the essence of the game, which requires skill and sportsmanship.
Cirit was particularly widespread in the Ottoman Empire from the 16th century onwards, becoming the foremost martial sport. In peace time it was played to improve the cavalry's attack and defence skills, and during campaigns to whip up their enthusiasm for battle.
Today cirit is not as widespread as before, but apart from Konya, it is still played in Eastern and South-Eastern Anatolia (Erzurum, Diyarbakir, Siirt...).




Sureyya Ayhan, the European champion runner in the women’s 1500 m Munich 2002, won a silver medal in the World Athletism Championship 2003 in Paris. She is also the Brussels 2003 Golden League winner in 1,500 m, in a world leading time of 3:55.33.