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What To Eat In Turkey: Food, Glorious, Mouthwatering Food!
Before you continue reading, I should point out one thing – do not read this post if you’re hungry! You’re likely to go raiding the fridge and I cannot be responsible for additional calories consumed!
However, if you’ve recently eaten and you’re too peckish right now, go for it. However, do be aware that you’re still likely to be hungry at the end.
If you’re thinking of heading to Turkey this year, you’re in for a treat. Not only is there plenty to see, do, experience and enjoy, but your taste-buds are in for a treat too.
Turkish food is delicious. Turks do not believe in mass producing food and for that reason everything you buy in bakeries, restaurants, cafes, or if you’re lucky enough, in the family home, is likely to have been made right from scratch, with the freshest produce.
There is no such thing as ‘yuck’ when it comes to Turkish food, however there are a few choices which might turn your stomach if you are a little squeamish – goat intestines or brain soup, anyone?
Nope, I thought not.
Despite those slightly borderline dishes, there are countless other wonderful delicacies to try when visiting Turkey. Whether you’re heading to a holiday resort on the south coast, you’re visiting Istanbul, or you’re going somewhere else entirely, you HAVE to try the food! Not doing this would be a crime (not literally, but it should be).
So, what should you try?
10 Of The Best Turkish Foods To Add To Your Holiday Menu
If you like pizza with a difference, you’ll love lahmacun. This is a flatbread, typically topped with ground lamb, spices, and tomatoes. It’s cooked in a wood-fired oven until the edges are crispy and it’s super-delicious!
Roll it up with salad leaves in the middle and a squeeze of lemon for a tasty treat that you’ll certainly want to repeat.
Also known as chicken shish, this is marinated chunks of chicken threaded onto a skewer and barbecued until succulent and truly wonderful.
Usually served on a piece of tortilla wrap (known as lavas) with salad on the side, you’ll be full without realizing it, although you’ll still want to try another piece.
Okay, so there is some debate as to who actually invented baklava and you will find it all over the Middle East and in the Balkans too, but it’s extremely popular and very easy to find in Turkey, so you have to eat at least a piece (or five) whilst you’re there.
For those who aren’t sure, this is a flaky pastry sweet which comes in all different varieties. The traditional option contains pistachio nuts and drizzled in honey. Not so great for the waistline but oh-so-wonderful for the taste-buds!
Typically a breakfast dish, but I personally think you can enjoy this at any time of the day, gozleme is another flat bread-type of dish, but this time it contains all manner of different ingredients. A personal favorite of mine is potato, but you can try cheese, mincemeat, spinach, and cheese, the list goes on.
Try and find gozleme made the traditional way, and avoid the ones you find rolled up in bakeries. You’ll know when it’s traditional because you’ll see the ladies in the restaurants rolling the thin dough and cooking it over a huge, round hot plate.
Another pastry-type dish, borek comes in all different types, and again the most common are mince meat, cheese, potato, and cheese and spinach. You’ll find borek normally served for breakfast, but it’s an all-day kind of affair. You’ll see locals eating it with tea, but if you want a sweet treat, try the plain version with sweet pudding sugar sprinkled over the top!
Guvec is a staple dish in most Turkish households and it’s a hearty and truly delicious meal to try. This is a stew, typically with lamb but you’ll also find it with beef too. The meat is cooked slowly until super-tender, with carrots, potatoes, peas, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and the sauce it is surrounded by is often a little tomatoey, a tiny bit spicy, and very warming.
Eat it with bread, and if you want to go totally authentic, avoid the fork and simply dig in, using the bread as a scooping aid!
Menemen is another breakfast dish but you’ll find people eating this all day long, such is its popularity. Menemen is made with peppers, tomatoes and eggs, and a tiny bit of spice to add extra flavour. It’s a real treat and super addictive! Again, use the bread to eat it and be sure to drink a glass or two of Turkish tea (cay) beside it.
If you go to a restaurant and order testi kebab, especially in Istanbul, you can expect to pay a fair amount for it, but it’s worthwhile if you find a good one. This is a guvec style of stew but the difference is that it is cooked in a clay pot in the oven, helping to give the meat a truly tender and succulent taste.
When served, they will smash the clay pot open, and the contents will still be cooking on your plate. Delicious!
When you translate this, it basically comes out as ‘fish and bread’, or a fish sandwich, but it’s so much more than that!
You’ll find balik ekmek all over the country but it’s typically famous in the Eminonu region of Istanbul, where the fish is caught directly from the Bosphorus (usually, but not always) and served straight off the barbecue onto fresh bread.
The other plus point is that this is a very cheap street food which you can simply grab and eat, while still being full at the end.
I could carry on writing about Turkish food all day! But, our final option is a great one for pasta lovers. Manti is often referred to as ‘Turkish ravioli’ and it is small dumplings made of egg pasta, containing beef or lamb. They are typically served in a bowl with yogurt on top and a tiny bit of spice to add a kick.
A Word About The Breakfast
We can’t finish up a chat about Turkish food without mentioning breakfast. Known locally as ‘kahvalti’ breakfast is a feast and a half! Try and make time for a traditional Turkish breakfast and it will see you through until dinner, for sure!
Eggs, menemen, borek, gozleme, tomatoes, cucumber, olives, different types of bread, meats, the list goes on. Served with several glasses of tea (cay), breakfast is an event in Turkey and you’ll find families coming together en masse to enjoy plates and plates of delicious, fresh breakfast food!
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