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The cuisine of Turkey & its neighbors


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#1 tighe

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Posted 06 October 2003 - 01:55 PM

Paula,

First, thanks for participating in this Q&A. After my one visit to Turkey, I completely fell in love with the culture and the food and have learned a lot from the writing and recipes in The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Not long ago, there was a spirited discussion here on eGullet around what the difference was between Greek and Turkish food. I would be very interested to know what your take on this question would be. From what I have learned, it seems like it would be nearly impossible to draw definitive culinary borders in the region or even to clearly determine what the true origins some common dishes are. I would assume that this is at least in part due to the fact that the Ottoman Empire carried Turkish food throughout the region and in turn brought back dishes to Istanbul.

My other more practical question is, what are the best food towns/cities to visit in Turkey in your opinion? I've been to Istanbul and the southwest coast. Thanks!
Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.
- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

#2 Wolfert

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Posted 06 October 2003 - 07:21 PM

You're absolutely right, it is nearly impossible to draw firm culinary boundaries between Greece and Turkey. The Ottomans had a 500 year run and the Greeks had an even longer run before that. Then in 1921 there was a major exchange of populations between the two countries, with a consequent blurring of culinary boundaries.
I've travelled throughout Turkey, often with two intepreters and a Kurdish speaking driver (for safety). I've found that the excellence of the food is dependent on the ingredients available in each region. For example, a baklava made with sheeps milk butter and pistachios is best in Gazientep...and it just can't be duplicated anywhere else. On the other hand, a lamb soup with green garlic, leeks and yogurt (please see my "Med. Grains & Greens") is sensational and can be easily duplicated here.
Contrary to what some have said, Turkish regional cuisine often does involve techniques. In Gazientep (my favorite culinary destination in Turkey) there are special ways of handling yogurt and phyllo and the use of spices that is just as challenging as some recipes from more sophiscated cuisines.
Istanbul has some terrific restaurants such as CIYA (of course, it was the center for Ottoman style cooking) but personally I love the food of the southeast, some towns in the interior, and also the cuisine of the Black Sea coast.
“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

#3 tighe

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 11:45 AM

Istanbul has some terrific restaurants such as CIYA (of course, it was the center for Ottoman style cooking)...

I have to admit that I haven't heard of CIYA, is it an acronym or a name? I had a spectacular Ottoman style dinner at Tugra in the Cirgan Palace when I was in Istanbul.
Most women don't seem to know how much flour to use so it gets so thick you have to chop it off the plate with a knife and it tastes like wallpaper paste....Just why cream sauce is bitched up so often is an all-time mytery to me, because it's so easy to make and can be used as the basis for such a variety of really delicious food.
- Victor Bergeron, Trader Vic's Book of Food & Drink, 1946

#4 Wolfert

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Posted 07 October 2003 - 04:51 PM

Knowing that egulleteers want to be on the cutting edge I am passing along the hottest name in Istanbul...Ciye or Ciya on the Asian side of Istanbul. It was just a way of passing along a good tip on a great restaurant/
“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.