Turk Cuisine

My first exposure to Turkic food was in the province of Xin'jiang in western China. There I ate what I still believe was some of the tastiest food in the world -- spicy lamb kebabs, tomato and noodle stew, and flat loaves of bread the size of pizza pies. It's true that other Central Asians consider food in Xin'jiang the best food of the entire Turkic world. But cuisine in Anatolia is also excellent, and while Uyghur food is Turkic food influenced by China, Turkey has Turkic food influenced by Mediterranean cuisine. You know what that means: an infinite variety of my favorite food, olives!

But first, the most important meal of the day. The hostel I stayed at served breakfast for free, and if Lonely Planet is correct, just about every place includes breakfast with the cost of the room. My breakfast included bread, honey, marmalade, a boiled egg, tomato and cucumber, olives, orange juice, and coffee. It's great to start the day on a full stomach.

Perhaps the mainstay of Turkish food is the kebab, made of beef, chicken, or lamb. In Xin'jiang each kebab was served right on the skewer. In Turkey, this large skewer was more common, and the seller would cut off a portion and put into a loaf of bread or serve it on a small plate with vegetables. These kebab stands can be found everywhere and a filling sandwich goes for less than $2.

It's a pleasure to walk through the streets and see the open markets. Spices are particularly popular...

As is fish. Many places will also cook some fish for you right there and put it in a loaf of bread like the kebab sandwich described above.

And finally, olives! Look at that variety!

I also mustn't forget to tell you about the famous Turkish delights. A Turkish confectioner came up with these candies in the later 1700s because of his dissatisfaction with hard candies that would stick in your teeth. He wanted to make something softer and easier to swallow and came up with what Turks call "the comfortable morsel," or what we call "Turkish delights." These were delicious and made for great presents for my hosts in Kazakhstan. With their soft texture, sugar-powder coating, and fruit or nuts in the center, they are unique and delicious.

Finally, the Turkish people are very nice and will be quick to invite you inside their store for a drink of tea or coffee. It's not uncommon to see couriers delivering dainty cups of tea or coffee on this. It is served hot with one or two cubes of sugar.

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