Turkey, as most people know, has a foot in two camps: one is in the eastern part of Europe and the other in the western part of Asia. Not surprisingly, wherever you go in such a big country (Turkey is three times the size of the UK) there’s usually a mix of both.
At its popular holiday destinations like CLC Kusadasi Golf & Spa or CLC Apollonium Spa & Beach you can find food that’ll remind you of home, or you can try out the taste of the real Turkey. Both are on offer. To help you, especially first-time travellers, we’ve put together a few things which we think you’ll get a real kick out of trying especially if you go exploring!
For pitta’s sake
Funnily enough, there’s a bit of Turkey that’s on almost every British high street: we’re talking cuisine of course, and the good old doner meat and pitta or your other Friday night staple, the kebab. The trouble is, the ones you’re going to find in Turkey won’t much look like or, thank goodness, taste like what you’re used to after five pints down the Elephant & Castle.
Try them for yourself in Turkey’s restaurants and then, when you go back home…well, let’s just say they’re a bit of a pale shadow.
What are mezes? The Turkish version (there are others) is a collection of small dishes that are usually served as an appetizer. We’re talking finger food; dips and small dishes such as feta cheese, aubergine salad, stuffed vine leaves, sardines, calamari, shrimp…what you’re offered will depend on your main course but the list and choice is virtually endless.
Any restaurant you visit will have meze. The only thing to watch out for is having so many you’re too full to eat your main course!
If you want to know whether a particular vegetable can be stuffed, check out ‘dolmas’ on the menu. Red and green peppers are a favourite of course, but also aubergines and courgettes. There are basically two types: those containing rice and those with meat inside. Whichever you try, we promise you’re in for a treat. This is a really characteristic Turkish dish and one that won’t have any hidden surprises if your taste buds are a bit skittish.
Surely that won’t have any surprises! Er, well, that’s not quite true. Coffee in Turkey – or Turkish coffee to be more precise – is not what you get at home.
It’s a bit of a different creature. It basically refers to the way you prepare unfiltered coffee which has been ground into a very fine powder. And you won’t be slurping it to the last drop either. At the bottom are the grounds. It may turn out to be a bit of an acquired taste, but when you get home you’ll have a story to tell!
Got a sweet tooth?
One of the sweetest – and tastiest – concoctions on the planet is a mixture of filo pastry, melted butter and chopped pistachio nuts, almonds and walnuts, all held together by honey or a syrup which goes by the name of baklava. If you’ve had the pale imitation mass-made by machine then you’ll find the real thing is fantastic, but sweeeeeet! It’s a real Turkish delight!
Actually, the icing sugar-covered jelly treat which the Turks call lokum can be found everywhere. Its origins are a little lost in the mists of time, but a confectioner in Istanbul way back in 1777 may have been the source.
It’s always nice to be reminded of your holiday by making your own version at home of something you enjoyed while you were away. It can often be difficult sourcing the more ‘exotic’ ingredients, but in the case of Turkish Delight it’s quite straightforward…there are plenty of recipes on the internet. Try it for yourself.
Breakfast in the UK is a fry-up (if your arteries can take it), or increasingly these days, some kind of ‘healthy’ cereal option. That’s if you’ve got time, of course.
What it’s not usually is olives, cheese and bread, grilled sausage and egg dishes, but ‘when in Rome’…or Turkey in this case, do as the Turks do. Breakfast there starts with black tea and the key is to keep your breakfast ingredients fresh, natural and good quality. If you have youngsters with you and they’re not very adventurous yet, then there’s certain to be something on the menu for them. Meanwhile, if you’re courageously exploring Turkey’s many breakfast offerings, one thing you won’t have to worry about is…portion control!