Though Turkish cuisine is a fusion of Turk, Arabic, Persian, Central Asian and Greek cuisines, there are also many regional differences in Turkey's cooking, from the Black Sea's corn and fish to the eastern region's mezes and kebabs.
The Turkish people are descendants of nomadic tribes, who began moving westward from the semi-deserts of Mongolia and central Asia in the 6th century. Primarily herdsmen, they lived off their flocks and available vegetation. Throughout the slow advance across the continent, they acquired new food practices as they entered the cultural sphere of other kingdoms. Their developing cuisine was influenced by those of China and Persia and, when they arrived in Anatolia, by the Greeks.
Of the many Turkish states known to history, two made major advancements in developing the cuisine. From the 11th to 13th centuries, the Selcuk Turks dominated much of Anatolia, the vast steppe of Turkey between the Black & Mediterranean Seas. Two centuries later, the Ottomans ruled from Istanbul a vast territory of conquered lands in addition to Anatolia. Both had an enormous influence on the cuisine. Their reigns & food habits were richly entwined with the practices of Islam, the religion they had encountered in Persia and ultimately embraced.
Customs & HospitalityTurkey is hospitality—it is a matter of honor for the Turks. Strangers knocking on the door are treated as guests from God. Friends greet each with big hugs and kissing on both cheeks, and then ask after everyone's health.
Turks eat a light breakfast, typically some white sheep's cheese, olives and bread with butter and jelly, and tea. Served 7-10 am, it often is fancier at tourist hotels—fruits in season, fruit juices, cheeses, several varieties of olives, homemade yogurt, breads and rolls, cereals, cakes, eggs and cold cuts.
Lunch is served from about 12-2 pm. Dinner, the main meal, is served about 7-9 pm, even later in metropolitan areas.
- Influences, Customs & Hospitality
- What to Eat
- Menu Guide
- Coffee, Tea and Sociability
- Festivals & Feasts
- A Myriad of Turkish Delights
- Ali Nazik Kebabi (eggplant purée)
- Ezme Salatasi (spicy tomato salad)
- Irmikli Hurma Tatlisi (semolina dessert cookies)
- Kabak Kalye (zucchini with ground meat)
- Kisir (bulgur salad)
- Muhammara (an appetizer)
- Sirkeli Patlican (eggplant with vinegar)
- Sultan Sarma (tenderloin)
- Zetinyagli Yaprak Dolmasi (stuffed vine leaves)
from Kate's Global Kitchen:
Also visit our Middle East section.
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This page modified January 2007