Turkish cuisine is a synthesis of Armenian, Jewish, Kurdish, Circassian, Arabic, Russian, Balkan and Greek influences. A tour of Turkey allows us to draw up a Prévert-style inventory of the culinary specificities of each region.
Whether at the market, in the homes of locals or in the various types of restaurants, the smells, colours and varieties of spices used in traditional cuisine are omnipresent.
On the Aegean coast, the zeytinyağlı, dishes prepared in olive oil are in the spotlight and tasted as starters. Fish also have a place of choice as well as the various herbs harvested in the hinterland and used to compose salads and dishes with original flavours.
Raki, a traditional aniseed-based alcohol, usually accompanies these delicacies.
On the Mediterranean coast, the products of fishing are offered to your taste buds but are also mixed with various regional kebap dishes such as Adana.
In Central Anatolia, Turkey’s breadbasket, the specialities are mainly composed of cereal products used as side dishes but also to make pasta with various fillings with cheese, meat or vegetables such as börek and pide but also mantı, species of ravioli often stuffed with meat and topped with a yoghurt and garlic sauce.
Lamb meat is also used in the preparation of delicious dishes such as tandır or fırın kebabı which offer a fondant due to prolonged cooking, often several hours.
Vegetables also produced in abundance in this region allow the production of çorba (soups) and dishes with special tastes.
The region of Gaziantep is one of the three most famous in terms of Turkish gastronomy. Whether it is meze, these small cold or lime dishes served in abundance, or the infinite varieties of kebap and meat dishes often spiced up, it is a symphony of flavours that is proposed here for the greatest pleasure of the amateurs.
The meal will always end with a pistachio-based dessert or with a künefe, a speciality made from a paste of angel hair and cheese baked in the oven.
A little further towards the south
In the south-west, on the border with Syria, there are two other gastronomic meccas, Hatay and Mardin. The influences here come from the nearby neighbour but also from the importance of the Syriac community with regard to Mardin. This is an opportunity to discover unique and refined dishes.
In Eastern Turkey, a high altitude region with harsh winters, the dishes are often made with flour but also with cheese and dairy products.
On the way back to the Black Sea, we discover the different varieties of fried food and fish served in different ways but also vegetable-based dishes such as cabbage or cheese specialities which make them consistent dishes for these regions where working outdoors requires a rich diet.
On the road to Istanbul, another gastronomic stop is Bursa, home of the iskender kebap, thin strips of meat served with yoghurt and drizzled with boiling butter and spiced with chilli.
The places of restoration are various and varied, going from the lokanta offering an assortment of dishes like at home to the meyhane, the famous taverns where musicians also come to entertain you while passing by the fish restaurants or the köfteci, each one will find its account there according to its desires and its purse.
From any part of the country, çay – tea – originating from the region of Rize in the eastern Black Sea, is served throughout the day.
Turkish coffee is also part of the country’s culture and, after tasting it, you may be able to discover your future thanks to the talents of a falcı, the coffee pomace reader.