Separate meals? No, I didn’t! The main feature of the Turkish table is a wide variety of products for one meal. Moreover, in this reception there will definitely be a lot of the freshest soft bread, some kind of tender juicy meat dish, it is often supplemented with thick yogurt and vegetables. But what about the “signature” Ottoman tea? Tea is drunk in unlimited quantities and with traditional oriental delicacies in a bite.
Important! Vacationers sometimes take hotel food as if it is the national cuisine of Turkey, alas, this is a big delusion. Menus and meal schedules in resort establishments are formed with a focus on foreign guests. Therefore, they are a strange mixture of local and European culinary traditions, distorted by the views of hotel management.
There is also some difference between the modern diet of Turks living in big cities and the authentic feast culture that prevails in non-tourist regions. So, the former often eat on the run, have a quick snack in cafes or fast food, and are prepared from semi-finished products.
This is mainly due to the fact that in “advanced” cities women work no less than men and physically do not have time to cook a lot. But the provincial residents still retained the cult of a woman-housewife and the unhurried pace of life, because their breakfasts, lunches and dinners can be delayed for 2-3, or even 4 hours. What is there to be surprised about, because they dine in large companies, where there is always something to chat about.
The traditional cuisine of Turkey is considered one of the richest, most diverse, exquisite in the world – it’s hard not to agree with this. And all why? Not in spite of, but due to the fact that traditionally Turkish women are housewives, spending a lot of time in the kitchen, they managed to invent many recipes. It is believed that the more difficult the dish, the more effort and time invested in it, the more respect the hostess shows towards the guests.
How and what to eat in Turkey
Since the majority of the country’s inhabitants profess Islam, they also adhere to Muslim prescriptions in food, where “haram” is forbidden to eat (for example, pork, alcohol) and “halal” is what is allowed. And since there is a lot of what is allowed, the housewives cook skillfully, the Turks are always willing to eat tasty food, so every meal turns into a kind of ritual. As a rule, plates with different dishes are placed on the floor or on a low table, family members and guests are located around them, treats are taken and eaten with the right hand, but appliances can also be used. Traditional Turkish dishes are served in a certain sequence:
First, “meze” – snacks, cold and hot, to stimulate the appetite. In many restaurants, they are not listed on the menu, they are served by default.
Then – salads, most often vegetable, seasoned with olive oil or sauces. As well as appetizers, in restaurants they can already be included in the price of main courses. Check this point with the waiter so as not to order them separately.
Next are the first courses. Turks are very fond of soups and stews with legumes.
Second courses. Be sure to have an abundance of meat, kebabs, and a small side dish, such as rice or bulgur, and grilled or stuffed vegetables are also added.
This is a diagram of a typical lunch and dinner. And at home, and snack bars, and restaurants in Turkey – they serve large portions, accompanied by generous “bread baskets”. Breakfast is no exception. For Turks, the first meal is a special meal that is considered a national highlight. In all menus, it is written in a separate line under the heading “Kahvalti”, there are also eateries specializing in breakfast.
How do Turks start their day? It’s not coffee with croissants or toast, it’s not muesli or even an omelet. A traditional Turkish breakfast could be called “a little bit of everything” as it consists of a set of different foods that are served simultaneously in small bowls or on one large dish with several cells.
There is bread, cheese, sliced vegetables, olives, tender little kofta cutlets, sauces, honey, jams, sweets, tea, of course – everything that is eaten in Turkey for breakfast. And coffee is drunk only after breakfast and never instead of it.
But those Turks who intercept on the run in the morning are most often content with “simits” – these are such lush Turkish bagels with sesame seeds. They are eaten by cutting in half and spreading the middle with butter, melted cheese, chocolate paste or jam, washed down, of course, with tea.
Estimated prices for Turkish dishes, tips
If you do not take into account the sky-high prices at seaside resorts during the high season, then food in a foreign country is quite affordable. In supermarkets, compare the price tags to European ones, in the markets – cheaper. If you are not too lazy to move away from the beaches and popular tourist areas, then you can save 4 times at lunch in a restaurant / café in Turkey. Of course, catering establishments focused on foreigners have higher prices than those where locals often eat. For specific examples of where to eat and price categories, see Eating in Istanbul.
Note! Turks do not save on food and are always friendly to children. Therefore, their meals tend to have large portions, bread, sauces and snacks are included in the price of dishes from the menu, and children can be presented with additional treats. Of course, there are special high chairs for babies everywhere and healthy children’s foods – most often milk porridges, puddings and pastries with fruits and jams. Older children can be ordered the same food as adults, but warn the waiter “but spicy”, because Turkish national cuisine is replete with spicy dishes. By the way, if you can’t handle the order, ask them to pack it with you – the chef will take it as a compliment.
Cafes, grocery stores and supermarkets accept payment by bank card and lira. In the markets – lira, as well as dollars and euros, but the market “conversion” will definitely not be profitable. Please note that when paying in foreign currency, change will be given either in lira or in goods.