A typical breakfast consists of cheese, white and yellow, butter, olives, eggs, cucumbers, tomatoes, jam and honey – also kaymak (clotted cream) eaten with fresh bread. Sometimes soup in the winter. Simit, a circular bread with sesame seads delicious eaten fresh from the above. is also a quick on the run breakfast or snack at any time. At B&Bs and small hotels a Turkish breakfast similar to the above is served, with Turkish Cay.
Cay and Khave (tea and coffee) and other drinks!!
Cay is the most important drink in Turkey – offered as the first hospitality to visitors to your home or place of business. Served in small shapely glass the tea is grown in Rize on the Black Sea Coast. It is made in a what is called a caydalyer. a double potted affair. In the bottom the water is boiled while in the small top the tea is softened in readiness! Once the boiling water is ready it is poured into the top and the tea brews for a minimum of 5 minutes before it is ready to pour. The small cup is filled to the strength required and boiling water added! Served with sugar normally as it is quite strong and black.
Turkish coffee (Turk Khavasi) is the 2nd most popular drink in Turkey. It is prepared in a pot (or though these days there are also electic pots special for the purpose). The coffee is roasted then finely ground, then boiled usually with suger as you like it. Served in small cups the grounds are allowed to settle. It is always served with a glass of water! Turkish women are adept are reading coffee grounds, much like teac cup reading in the West.
Ayran, a refreshing drink made from yoghurt water and salt, is widely drunk through Turkey. You can buy it now in small cartons, but most Turks prefer to drink acik ayran, which means prepared in a vat like affair and kept very cold. An acquired taste it is so refreshing on a hot day.
Raki (called Lions Milk or Aslan Sut in Turkish) is generally the drink for Turkish men! After a few rakiis it is rumoured that men turn into lions! Mixed with water it turns a cloudly milky colour, and is normally drunk with an equal amount of water by its side. Served with melon and white cheese, it is the drink of choice when Turkish men get together!
Key ingredients include fish, lamb, chicken, liver, eggplants, green peppers, lentils, tomatoes, dried and green beans olives, onions and garlic. Spices and herbs include parsley, cumin, black pepper, mint, oregano, red pepper, thyme and basil. Olives are common for both breakfast and meze plates. Nuts have a special place in Turkish quisine! Pistachios, chestnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts have a specially place in food and are used or deserts or just eaten separately.
Fruits are seasonal and rich and varied, cheap and abundant. Plums, apricots, pears, apples, grapes and figs as well as oranges and mandarins and of course in the summer, Karpus (watermelon) and green melon. Dried grapes, figs and apricots are part of every day life. Komposto (compote) are used as side dishes to meat and rice. Dolma and pilav also can contain dried currents or raisins. Turkish women are great jam makers and choose their fruits from across the range in season!
Home cooked food is still preferred by Turkish people, although the new generation like to eat out ! A typical home cooked meal would consist of soup (corba) especially in the winter time, dishes made of vegetables, legumes cooked with diced lamb and minced meat, also salad and cacik (made of cucumber and yoghurt) which cleanses the palate. In earlier times meat was only eaten at wedding ceremonies or during the Kurban Bayram celebreation but now has become part of the daily diet as production has been modernized.
The main use of meat remains the combination of ground meat and vegetables, with beans (fasulye) or ispanak (spinac) and is servied with yoghurt. In coastal towns and in Istanbul fish is widely available such as sea bass and sea bream, sardines or the famous hamsi dish. Chicken and poultry products play a large part in Turkish cooking. Pork is not readily available and plays no part in Turkish cuisine.