Olde Turkish proverb: Coffee should be black as Hell, Strong as death and Sweet as love. (Coffee is an intregal part of the Turkish culture.)
Turkey has the unique distinction of bridging two the continents of Southeastern Europe and Southwestern Asia. She also shares her borders with nine neighbors including three bodies of water. Her neighbors are Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. Thus, she has the benefit of many cultural influences.
Her climate is temperate with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. The interior climate is harsher. Her terraine is made up of mountains, a narrow coastal plain and a high central plateau. Altitudes run from sea to 5100 ft.
During the rise of the Ottoman Eqmpire (1453-1650) which, at the time, extended into Eastern Europe, Egypt and Inner Asia. This was when the genius of Turkish cooking first took hold. Modern-day Turkey was created in 1923 from the Turkish remnants of the Ottoman Empire, and the food style has endured.
Turkey straddles Europe and Asia. Her position allows tea cultivation in the cool north, thriving of hot pepper and melon in the south. The Black Sea, Sea of Marmara, Agean and Southern Mediterranean yield boundless fish and shellfish. To this abundant region the ancient Greeks introduced wine in eastern Turkey, Persians introduced sweets, sugar and rice, Nomads introduced shis-kebab, also flatbreads and Turkey came up with yogurt. Stir in profuse olives, an almost endless array of fruits and almost every kind of nut, then season with these area accents of mint, dill, flat-leaf parsley, paprika, cumin, berries from the sumac shrub, garlic, onions.
Adaptations have wrought plentiful crops of wheat and barley. Lamb is most popular with beef and chicken distant second. Pork is prohibited by the population which is 98 percent Muslim. Typical Turkish diet includes yogurt salads, fish in olive oil, stuffed vegetables, lemon and egg yoke sauce and vine leaves. Breakfast is frequently white sheep’s cheese, olives, Bread & butter, jelly, tea. Turkish coffee is powder-like in grind and frequently spiced with cardamom. Usually, most sweets, many with syrupy file dough, are enjoyed at teatime, not following meals.
BORSCH: (Turkish Beet Soup) Beets, tomatoes, onions, and stew meat made into a soup. Lemon juice and beaten eggs are added when stew is cooked.
BORULCE SALATASI: Blackeyed peas and zucchini squash laced with olive oil and lemon
CIRCASSIAN CHICKEN: Boned chicken, plus vegetables, seasoned with walnuts and cayenne pepper.
EGGPLANT SALAD: Pureed eggplant mixed with olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and yogurt.
GYROS: Lamb, positioned vertically, cooked from the side. As outside cooks, it is sliced off.
KOKOREC: Lamb intestines braided and served in submarine rolls.
LAMB HEAD: Chopped meat served on bread with parsley and onions.
MEZE: Braised artichoke appetizer made with broad beans in tomato sauce and vine leaves stuffed with rice, currants and pine nuts, beet salads
NUT SAUCE: Ground nuts mixed with garlic, vinegar or lemon juice
PILAFS: Rice or bulgur with combinations of nuts, raisins, tomatoes, chickpeas, onions, currants
POACHED EGGS WITH YOGHURT: Top poached eggs with sauce of yogurt and garlic, topped with melted butter and red pepper.
RAISIN RICE: Toast white rice over medium heat, add raisins and chicken broth. Cook until water is absorbed.
RAKI: Anise-flavored national drink distilled from grapes.
STUFFED EGGPLANTS: Eggplant stuffed with a mixture of ground meat, rice, vegetables, lemon and parsley.
STUFFED FISH: Stuff with a dressing seasoned with parsley, dill, cinnamon, allspice, currents, pine nuts, ground walnuts, onions and bread crumbs.
YAYLA CHORBASI: (Soup of the Pastures) Chicken broth with rice and yogurt, seasoned with mint.