Thursday, 5 July 2012

Turkey: What to eat

So, having done my research and done my very best to eat as much as I could, it seems only fair to share some of my findings with the Internet. Here follows a list of the things that I would recommend seeking out if you go. I'm also going to be looking out for them in Turkish restaurants and having a go at some of them at home.
I've already mentioned the aubergines dishes and drinks, but they're definitely on the list too.

Start the day with a traditional Turkish breakfast in the sun - usually some combination of egg, olives, cucumber, tomato, beyaz peynir (white cheese), honey and tea.
Menemen: scrambled eggs with tomatoes and peppers
Lahmacun: flatbread with minced lamb. Apparently the way you eat them is by squeezing on lemon juice ...
... then sprinkling on lots of parsley and rolling up, before devouring.
There's a simit seller on every corner - they're bagel shaped bread rolls covered in sesame seeds (on the left hand side in the picture).
This is what a real döner kebab should look like!
Gözleme, stuffed flatbread. Generally made by old ladies and cooked on a large metal convex surface. We bought a special long thin rolling pin to be able to make them at home.

Pide, another variation on the bread and filling combo. In this case, the filling was cheese and sucuk sausage.
Balik ekmek, or mackerel sandwich - the only thing to be eating next to the Bosphorus
Balik ekmek being made on a boat, then passed onto land for the punters. Clearly this was far too showy to produce the best sandwiches, but that didn't stop it from being packed with locals. (Our best balik ekmek, the one in the picture above, was from a grubby little stand on the other side of the Galata bridge.)

Köfte (meatballs)
Turkish delight, or lokum. Go for the pistachio stuff - it's the most expensive for a reason. (And still not actually expensive.)
Balkava. Again, I think pistachio is best.
Halva, a sweet sesame based thing
Künefe, a pudding made of shredded pastry, with a melted cheese middle.
Dondurma, or Turkish ice cream. It's chewy (from mastic), which is odd but good. The only annoying thing is that you have to smile through an elaborate jokey performance where the seller pretends to give it to you, takes it back again, and so on, while ringing a bell. Worth it, though.
Last, but not least, kaymak. My new obsession - this stuff is simply heavenly. A clotted cream type thing made from buffalo milk, it's usually served with honey and bread. It's unbelievably rich and creamy. Really worth seeking out if you can. I dragged Mr 'Splorer all over Istanbul in search of kaymak sellers. (Well, it's got no shelf life, so you simply have to eat as much as you can while you're there!)  

Clearly, there are many more goodies to try (and I'm already dying to go back in search of more new tastes), but this was certainly enough to keep us going for a couple of weeks of very happy eating. 

PS I haven't really gone into the meze - they were absolutely delicious too, and definitely worth seeking out, but they seemed a bit more familiar to me. Stuffed vine leaves and whatnot. But we did eat and enjoy them enormously!


  1. Wau, Nora. What a trip! The food looks only amazing.

  2. Looks fabulous! I had one of those flatbreads with minced lamb on the street in Amsterdam on Queen's Day about 7 years ago - I still remember how delicious it was....

  3. This all looks incredible - you're just pushing Istanbul higher up my list of places to go to very soon! What I would give for a lahmacun right now...

  4. It would be good to see a much wider variety of foreign foods coming into to towns like manchester so that everyone can taste foods from all pver the world.

    sam apex

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. Nothing beats real donner meat kebabs, that looks fabulous. The stuff we sometimes see here in the takeaway kebab shops is enough to put anyone off eating it for life. Except the flies that buzz round it of course!



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