To travel is to live and to live is to truly experience other cultures and customs. Right now with the Coronavirus waging war on the World, travel bans are reality, social distancing is a trend and national lock-downs a necessary evil, the only travel happening is in the confines of our homes. I thought I’d share some of my travel experiences, so we can all live vicariously through my travel diaries. The best way to experience travel is to eat your way through the country you visit. And that is exactly what my friend and I did on our visit to Turkey. We were spoilt for choice with Mouthwatering Turkish food you must try.
Turkish Cuisine You Must Try
Largely the heritage of Ottoman cuisine, which can be described as a fusion and refinement of Central Asian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European and Balkan cuisines.
Turkish food is more than just koftas, kebabs and doners. You may not be able to pronounce half the names of the dishes but you are going love the tastes.
Turkish breakfasts are a spread that caters for everyone’s needs, wants and desires. Cake for breakfast is an actual thing and actually ticks my desire box. The one thing that absolutely stood out for me was the eggs. I have no idea what’s the deal with the eggs in Turkey, but they taste incredible. So have all the cake, but make sure to keep space for some eggs for brekkie.
Turkish Main Meals & Street Food
Turkey is indeed the land of the kebab. There are various types of kebabs and various spellings from kabob to kebap. We especially loved the Doner kebab which is made of meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie. Seasoned meat stacked in the shape of an inverted cone is turned slowly on the rotisserie, next to a vertical cooking element. The outer layer is sliced into thin shavings as it cooks.
Turkish clay-pot kebab
We had never heard of this dish but this traditional dish brings all the drama and it didn’t disappoint. Meaning “jug” in Turkish, testi or pottery kebab is an Anatolian speciality prepared in a clay pot or jug. Traditionally cooked in a tandoor or clay oven, the pot is sealed with bread dough and left to simmer in its own juices for hours. It’s best to call the restaurant ahead and place your order while making a reservation as the dish takes approximately 4 hours to cook. Restaurants that serve this dish tend to always be fully booked.
Who doesn’t love carbs? And let’s be honest, holiday calories don’t count. I’m all about carbs and the humble Kumpir is a carb dish like no other. The Turkish have taken jacket potatoes to the next level. The potatoes are baked, ready and waiting. Once your order is placed, the potato is cut in half, cheese and butter added then mashed to silky perfection in the skin of the potatoe. You get to choose your toppings and my advice is to choose them all. Be extra because it’s so damn yum.
On arrival in Cappadocia we asked the locals what was the one meal that they would recommend and they all said the Manti. “Manti” is a kind of boiled dumpling served with a yogurt and butter sauce. On arrival it looked like macaroni but boy or boy, Turkish ravioli puts normal pasta to shame. This very popular Turkish dish is decadently delicious.
Aka lokum is one the most popular things you will come across during your travels to Turkey. A gummy, fragrant, delicate confection made of slow-cooked sugar-syrup and corn flour. They are cubed or rolled into colourful logs. Whatever the shape or colour, the lokum you encounter in Istanbul is most likely going to be freshly made and astoundingly delicious. You can try before you buy and make a point to negotiate on the price. The staff at these stores will gladly vacuum seal your purchases so that you can take a piece of Turkey back home with you.
Baklava and ice-cream
Another local fav is baklava, so make a point to visit a baklava parlour during your travels. This rich, sweet dessert is made from buttery layers of filo pastry filled with chopped nuts, sweetened and held together with syrup or honey. To complete the dish, warm layers of the pastry sandwich is a massive scoop of vanilla ice-cream. My friend and I ate this at 11pm before heading back to our hotel and didn’t regret it for a second.
A popular street food found in Istanbul is the ‘Kestane kebab’ aka roasted chestnuts. Chestnuts are scored with a sharp knife to prevent undue expansion and “explosion”. Then placed on a roasting area with a fire below that roasts the nuts. This snack is super affordable and a must try.
Turkish ice-cream is incredibly delicious, but it wouldn’t be the same without the hilarious entertaining Ice-cream Man. Buying ice-cream in Turkey is no simple occasion. Prepare to be entertained by the local prankster who will have you smiling and laughing while you wait in anticipation to tuck into your ice-cream. Watch the below video to see my experience in Istanbul.
Turkish tea is a staple at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Actually, Turkish tea is drunk throughout the day and you can expect to be offered tea no matter where you venture. If you haven’t had yourself a cup of Turkish tea, then did you even visit Turkey?
Raki is a sweetened, often anise-flavoured, alcoholic drink that is popular in Turkey. It’s consumed with chilled water. Have a bite of cheese and melon, then a sip of raki with a toast to everyone’s health. It is also often served with seafood or meze. I gave the Raki a miss while in Turkey, but did bring a bottle back home to SA.
The above list is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Turkish food you should try. There is an abundance of seafood and fresh fruit that can be purchased and eaten on the streets of Turkey. Meze food, decadent cakes and cheese platters are also a must try. While we eagerly wait for the Coronavirus to be a thing of the past so that we can resume our lives I hope that I have inspired you to travel the very first chance you get.
Stay home & Stay safe
Much Love, Natasha aka Fit Like Mummy