This blog post was updated on October 31, 2018.
Turkey is a fascinating country that is saturated with history and culture. There is just so much to see and take in that one can’t help but get hungry along the way. Luckily, Turkish cuisine has much to offer. Here are five of my favorite items:
Döner kebabs are a popular meat dish to eat while you’re “on the go” in Turkey. Various meats (lamb, goat, chicken, beef) are roasted on a vertical spit before being shaved into individual portions. The meat is often served in a pita with yogurt sauce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce. How’s that for healthy, fresh “fast food”?
Turkish breakfasts tend to feature a savory and sweet spread of cheese, butter, olives, cucumbers, boiled eggs, jams, and honey. You need something to accompany all of these accoutrements of course, which is where simit comes in. Simit is a circular bread, covered with sesame seeds. Simit is traditionally known as a breakfast food, but I could eat it all day long.
I enjoy all of the Turkish cheese I’ve tried. One of the most common is beyazpeynir, a salty, white cheese (beyazpeynir means “white cheese”) that is used in salads and melted into hot dishes. It is similar to a Greek feta, although slightly milder in flavor.
Ayran, the perfect antidote to a hot afternoon, is a cold, blended beverage made from yogurt, water and salt or fresh mint (depending on your preference). It is frothy, delicious, healthy and oh so refreshing. Ayran can be consumed by itself or as a compliment to a midday meal.
Known as “Turkish Delight” to most of the world, lokum are a favorite Turkish confection. Lokum are made from a bash of starch and sugar, which forms a gel to which flavors can be added. Popular flavors include rose, mint, orange, cinnamon, and vanilla. High-quality lokum include chopped dates and pistachios, which lends a nice textural contrast to the smooth gel base. Even though lokum are traditionally eaten at the end of a meal, I have a hard time not sneaking a few throughout the day.
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