Turkish Cuisine, like French and Chinese cuisines, is one of the world’s richest cuisines with thousands of years of history. Notably, some countries or cuisines have a symbolic dish. For example, Italy has pasta, and, France has cheese. But, it doesn’t work for the Turkish kitchen, because of its history, social, and, cultural heritage. Turkish cuisine is nourished by its individual regions, each with their own rich cuisines. It means that Turkish Cuisine varies across the country. The cooking of Istanbul, Bursa, İzmir and the rest of the Aegean Region inherit elements of the Ottoman kitchen. These areas, and the Mediterranean Region are rich in vegetables, herbs and fish. The Aegean Region is also famous for its olive oil dishes. Dolma (Stuffed Grape Leaves) is the best example of an olive oil dish. In the north of Turkey there’s the Black Sea where the Laz people live. Contrary to popular belief, Laz cuisine doesn’t mean Black Sea Cuisine.
The Laz kitchen has three main ingredients. Hamsi (Anchiovies), milk and savoy cabbage. However, hamsi and savoy cabbage are not the main ingredient in kitchen of Black Sea. Hamsi is symbol of the Lazs who can cook various Hamsi dishes: Pilaf, soup, dolma, desert, sütlaç and even jam (Hamsi Reçeli). Southeast Turkey, the Kurdish region, is famous for kebabs, mezes and deserts. Meat is the main meal and Kurds can cook meat in as many ways as the Laz cook hamsi.
At the mention of Turkish Cuisine, Turkish history should come to mind. The foundation of our people’s cuisine is related with the history of the economy, and Turks had two bases of production. Animal husbandry and wheat were the main staples of Turkey, and consequently meat, dried food, and grains were the main ingredients for Turkish meals. Other ingredients were introduced into the kitchen later on. A great development of Turkish Cuisine came with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. A gathering of high-ranking palace residents became one of the most important social activities. Therefore, this habit gave rise to the development of rich and delicious dishes. In a sense, Turkish Cuisine is the heritage of the Ottomans. So it means that Turkish Cuisine was influenced by neighbouring cuisines like Central Asian, Middle Eastern, Balkan, and, North African Cuisine.
Photo Credits: Jen R