| CATEGORIES: Food
Nicola Prentis goes on a tour of Turkey’s regional foods without leaving Istanbul.
In a country as vast as Turkey, with as long a history and, nowadays, seven borders, it is no wonder that the different regions have developed such distinct yet overlapping cuisines. Cuisines are shaped by what each area produces, which is a result of the geographical influence on agriculture and what is easily available. For example, harsh mountainous conditions in the Black Sea make raising livestock difficult so local dishes feature predominantly fish. Spices and dried fruits abound in South Eastern Anatolia cooking as it borders Arab countries and the Ottoman Sultans controlled the Spice Routes, while further North flavours are less complex. Even apparent anomalies can be explained this way. Adana, on the Mediterranean coast where fish might be expected, is famous for kebab. The Adana kebab takes its influence from Urfa, in a less spicy incarnation, as it is further from the Syrian border and not on the Spice Road.
Finding all this out on a culinary tour of Turkey could take years, cover thousands of miles and still miss some hidden local food but luckily some of the mountains have come to Mohammed. If you think about the massive influxes of Turkish people from all the corners of Anatolia, it’s not surprising that Istanbul has the best stocked larder with every cuisine represented and expert cooks to prepare it. In restaurants in the dishes’ hometowns, the regional specialties are often noticeable by their absence as, typically, women cook at home and families don’t tend to dine out. So, unless invited into people’s homes, the traveller can end up with major döner and pide fatigue wondering how Turkish cuisine earned its reputation as one of the world’s most renowned. To try regional cuisines in Turkey, the visitor might be best served doing a gastronomic tour right here. Here’s our guide to what to look for and where to get it.
Keywords: Pastries, liver
The Trakyan region is north of Istanbul and goes up to the Greek and Bulgarian borders. It has a rich cuisine influenced by the Balkans and Greeks that migrated there after wars displaced them. Based on simple flavours and ingredients, the specialties are fried liver (ciğer), pelte (pudding of fruit juice thickened with starch), green beans and fried pastries.
Aytar Cad 14/A, 1 Levent
0212 269 0809
In the family for three generations since 1944, is a congenial place to explore some elements of Trakyan cuisine with several types of stews (güveç), meats and köftes as well as pastries.