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Monday, 15-Aug-2005 00:00 Email | Share | Bookmark
Turk victuals

Ice cream
turkish tea
iskandar kebab( i like it)
fast foods
lahmajon and.....
Turkey is rightly famed for its cuisine, which is rich and savory, not particularly spicy-hot, with abundant use of vegetables. (If you have food allergies, read this.)

Though based on lamb, it includes beef and chicken (no pork, of course), as well as all sorts of seafood (even shellfish, which are forbidden to strict Muslims). The most common preparations are roasting and grilling, which produce the famous Turkish kebaps, including döner kebap, the national dish.

Meat portions are small compared to those in North America. Actually, vegetables predominate in most meals, though many vegetable recipes use small amounts of meat as a flavoring. If you're not strictly vegetarian or vegan, yet you prefer to eat more vegetables than meat, you'll do very well in Turkey. Here are tips for vegetarians.

Bread is baked fresh early morning for breakfast and lunch, and late afternoon for dinner, and varies from the common sourdough loaf to rounds of leavened pide (flat bread) to flaps of paper-thin lavas (lah-VAHSH, unleavened village bread baked on a griddle).

Snacks and side dishes include gözleme (fresh-baked flat bread folded over savory ingredients—a sort of Turkish crêpe—and börek, pastry filled with cheese and vegetables or meat.

If you are vegetarian, you'll get along alright by choosing the few Turkish dishes made without any meat, and by dining in the increasing number of restaurants offering vegetarian plates. A popular traditional dish is gözleme, flat bread folded over various fillings.

As for drinks, pure spring water is always available. Drink only bottled water. Some tap water is safe, but it's difficult to be sure.

Turkey is famous for its succulent fruit, and thus for its fruit juices. There's also ayran (yogurt mixed with spring water--tastes like buttermilk), which goes well with kebap (roast lamb).

Islam forbids drinking alcohol, but many Turks are European in their lifestyle and enjoy alcoholic beverages with meals: beer, wine, and raki (clear grape brandy flavored with anise and diluted with water) are the favorites, although gin, vodka, whiskey and liqueurs are also served.

Turkish tea is the national stimulant, even at breakfast, and famous Turkish coffee only a distant second.

Among the favored treats is Turkish Delight (lokum
Kebap (or kebab) simply means "roasted," and usually refers to lamb roasted in some form, but may refer to chicken--or even (roasted) chestnuts--as well.

The most familiar Turkish kebap is shish kebap: chunks of lamb roasted on a skewer. It sounds simple enough, but to make it best you need Turkish free-range lamb, a true charcoal grill, and the knack for getting the outside singed while the inside of each chunk remains soft and succulent.

Döner Kebap is lamb roasted on a vertical spit and sliced off when done. When laid on a bed of chopped flat bread and topped with savory tomato sauce and brown butter, it becomes Iskender (or Bursa) Kebap.

Izgara Köfte is ground lamb mixed with egg, rice or bread crumbs and spices, formed into longish meatballs and grilled. If you squoosh the meat onto a long flat skewer and grill it you have shish köfte. (Shish köfte may take on the name kebap if the chef adds his own touches to it.)

Çöp Shish is three or four little chunks of lamb, and a chunk of fat, grilled on a small wooden skewer: a specialty of the Aegean region, especially south of Izmir. More...

Shashlik is chunks of lamb interspersed with tomatoes, onions and peppers/pimientos (although any good Turkish chef will cook the lamb and vegetables on separate skewers because their cooking times are quite different).

Iskender (or Bursa) Kebap is named for the chef who created the dish and the city of Bursa where he created it.

Iskender ("Alexander") Kebap begins as lamb raised on the thyme-covered slopes of Mount Uludag (which rises south of Bursa, which is south of Istanbul and the Sea of Marmara). The lamb is roasted as döner kebap, sliced and spread atop diced flat pide bread, then topped with savory tomato sauce and browned butter and served with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of parsley on the side.

Although Iskender/Bursa-style kebap is now served throughout Turkey in many restaurants, the best is still made in Bursa where various restaurants compete for discerning clientele.

I think it's worth visiting Bursa just to eat this stuff. (While you're there, try their candied chestnuts, delicious peaches and excellent fruit juices as well.)

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