Meze

From hectic cities and sleepy villages to stunning coastlines and imposing mountains, Turkey is a country of great diversity. This doesn’t even take into account its multicultural society or the delectable cuisine on offer.

Several people go on Turkey holidays to marvel at Istanbul’s incredible architecture or enjoy the favourable climate at resorts such as Bodrum, Marmaris and Izmir. However, wherever you decide to go, it would be a crime not to sample some of Turkey’s sustenance specialities.

Must-try food

Meze – Traditional Turkish dinners start with an array of meze, which are hot or cold appetisers such as dips (tzatziki, hummus), salads (tomatoes, olives) and marinated vegetables (aubergines, peppers). Although it might be tempting to try all the options, you’ll need to leave room for your mains. But seeing as Turkish cuisine features a lot of meat, vegetarians can happily enjoy a whole meal of just meze.

Kebabs – Forget any preconceived ideas or images you have of greasy kebabs, as they’re rather different and much more delicious in Turkey. They’re not considered a takeaway food here, unless wrapped in tortilla wrap-like bread known as dürüm. Instead, small chunks of meat are usually grilled over hot coals and served with fresh salad and warm flatbread.

Hints and tips

Know about the regional specialities – Turkish cuisine is regional, so every inch of the country will have something different in store. The Black Sea region has plenty of fresh seafood while the south-eastern part of Turkey eats a lot of meat, such as kofta meatballs.

Sample the street food – Some of Turkey’s tastiest dishes can be found on the street. Coastal areas have things like deep-fried mussels to sample while the bigger cities boast street-carts selling anything from nohutlu pilav (pilau rice with chickpeas) to roast chestnuts.

Don’t skip dessert – While flavoursome meat dishes are somewhat of a speciality, Turkey also excels at desserts. These can be dairy-based or non-dairy-based, but varieties of both are well worth tasting. The most famous dessert is baklava, made from layers of filo pastry filled with chopped pistachio or walnuts and sweetened with syrup.

Try the drinks too – You may have already heard of Turkish coffee, but there are several other beverages that deserve a mention too. These include Ayran, a salty yoghurt drink that is ideal for spicy dishes, and the anise-flavoured alcoholic aperitif called raki.

So, although there are an abundance of reasons why you might want to visit Turkey, sampling its outstanding cuisine is bound to be near the top of your list.

Baklava

Images by a1ucard and Isabelle Hurbain-Palatin, used under the Creative Commons license.