The first thing I have to say about Turkish food is that it is very healthy. Usually when I travel from the states to Turkey or vice versa, it takes about a week or so for my stomach to get adjusted to the food. Another thing about Turkish food is the looks are deceiving! When I first got here I didn’t want to try a lot of things because the food looked so different and not appetizing. But one team dinner I decided to try something that didn’t look too good and it actually turned out to be very tasteful. Since then, I’ve been much more open.
My absolute favorite Turkish dish are the soups. It is common to have soup with every meal here- even breakfast sometimes- and just about all of them are tasty. There are so many different types. For example: yoghurt soup, vegetable soup, tomato soup, and various bean types of soups. What makes them stand out is the Turkish spices that are added to them, they are served with fresh bread and you squeeze lemon in the soup to give it a little kick . Also most of the time, because natural ingredients are used to make the soups, they taste homemade. Their Merçimek soup (translated as lentil soup) in particular is really delicious. I would say it’s the most common soup served and you can find it at just about any restaurant.
Just as soup is served with most meals, Turkish coffee and tea is served religiously at the end of each meal. I’m not a tea or coffee person but I did try both. The tea is always brought to you in a Turkish tea glass and has a lot of caffeine but is good with a little sugar. In the same way, the coffee is very strong caffein wise and served in a distinct, tiny Turkish coffee glass. I’m not a fan of the coffee, but if you like you coffee strong and black, this is the coffee for you.
When I’m here in Turkey, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. The Turkish breakfast consists of freshly squeezed orange juice, eggs any way you like them (boiled, scrambled, omelet, etc), tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, a variety of cheeses, fried rolls with chesse inside, fresh bread, honey, butter, homemade jelly, and sometimes even more. Usually everything comes out on a big plate and I go to work! If I have the chance, sometimes I’ll have Turkish breakfast more than once a day.
A couple of other dishes I’ve tried that are special here are iskander and pide. Iskander is one of the meals that can go in the category of not looking good but actually tasting good. This is a plate with slices of very flavorful meat served on top of fresh bread with yogurt on the side. Oh and if I didn’t mention it yet, yogurt is served with every meal here. They use it kind of like sour cream, but with everything! Once iskander is served, the waiter comes over and pours a mixture of steaming hot oil and butter all over the meat to add flavor. And as I said before, it’s pretty good.
Pide is a more simple dish. It’s their version of pizza. The main difference is that it has no tomato sauce. I love the plain cheese pide, but it is also common to add an egg to the pide, and pide topped with ground beef is popular too.
Turkey has their specialty meals and dishes, but you can still things like chicken, fish, veggies, potatoes and so on- maybe just with a little different flavor and spice. So if you’re not as daring as me, you can play it safe and still be able to get by. But you’ll be missing out if you do!