Turkey has a very rich culture, involving religion, family, history and food. They are joyful people and like to celebrate everything. And how can you celebrate better than with a big meal. So there are a lot of things we can say about Turkish food. The most important is the taste, and trust me when I say it tastes good. There is something for all tastes: spicy, sweet, salty, colorful and all sorts of interesting mixtures. There is a lot of meat involved in Turkish cuisine, and each time they hear I am a vegetarian they look surprised and say that Turkey is not for vegetarians. But that is not true, because I found a lot of dishes without meat that I love.
Turkish cuisine has most of its heritage from Ottoman cuisine. Briefly I can say Turks love food. There is a lot of bread, meat, sugar (in everything), there is always salad on the table (at least as an appetizer), tea (black tea), Ayran (Turkish yogurt drink) and Turkish coffee.
This is breakfast… or a part of it, because we couldn’t make everything fit on the same table.
And the rest of the ‘breakfast’ here:
And there is always desert on the table, because Turkey loooooves sugar (everything is about seker, even in the tea they love so much and of which they drink maybe more than 20 cups a day, most of them put 2 cubs of sugar!!)
And let’s not forget Turkish traditional drinks. – Ayran, Turkish Tea (Turkish: çay, pronounced Chai, black tea).
Because their families are very close to each other, most of them take dinner together. So there is always a big dinner in the Turkish families. They wait for all the family members to get home, so they can eat together. There is an unwritten rule, the oldest should be the one to sit first at the table. And if you want to please the host, you should eat all the food from your plate.
Let me introduce, DINNERS :
Because both me and my colleague volunteer from Spain, Miriam, are vegetarians, most of the foods we tried and photographed are without meat. So for all of you that said we have nothing to eat in Turkey, I have tons of pics to prove you are wrong.
Bread dishes – For breakfast, lunch, dinner, for lentil soup, or kebap. Turkey cannot live without bread. Ever!
Speaking about Sahur, you can read more here,where i’ve explain some of the Turkish traditions during Ramadan. This is other Sahur breakfasts I’ve eaten:
1. fast food like:
2. Another common and traditional dish is the lentil soup (Ezogelin soup or Turkish: Ezogelin çorbası, “the soup of Ezo the bride”). The ingredients are red lentils, rice, bulgur, olive oil, butter, onion, garlic, tomato, tomato paste, paprika, hot pepper, dried mint, black pepper, and salt; it is usually served with lemon wedges.
And some more bread to go with everything else:
Çiğ köfte – I really love this one. It means ‘raw meatball’. A favorite way of eating çiğ köfte is rolled in a lettuce leaf, drinking ayran to counter-act the burning sensation that this very spicy food will give.
There are also two no-meat versions for vegetarians. Although traditional recipe requires minced -raw- meat, the version in Turkey consumed as fast-food (through small shops in every neighborhood of Turkey) must be meatless by law due to hygienic necessities. Therefore, çiğ köfte is vegan in Turkey for a decade. Meat is replaced by ground walnut.
Another favorite of mine is the traditional Sarma, which is a dish of grape or cabbage leaves rolled around a filling usually based on minced meat. In Turkey, the word “sarma” is used interchangeably with dolma for stuffed vine leaves (yaprak sarma), cabbage (lahana sarma). The filling usually contains minced meat, rice or bulgur, herbs, onion, currants and pine nuts, herbs such as parsley and dill, and spices including cinnamon and black pepper. Lucky us, there are a lot of people and places that make the vegetarian version of this amazing dish.
My favorite part of the meal is usually the last one, the dessert :
Although people usually say they pity us for not eating meat, I can declare myself in love with Turkish cuisine and the vegetarian options are more than delicious. Definitely one of the best cuisines I’ve ever tried and which I would recommend to anyone, no matter their diet 🙂
Iulia (the most and always hungry girl)