Today’s Turkish cuisine is an incredibly rich food culture that even includes well-developed kitchen architecture and design, specially-designed tools, cooking methods, table layouts, service procedures, and even seasonal menus. This should be of no surprise at this point. As we have seen, for almost 500 years Turkish dishes have evolved from the plains of Central Asia to the magnificent palaces of the Sultans of the Ottoman empire, through the modern Republican era. As previously mentioned, with heritage so rich, starting in palace kitchens that often had more than 1000 cooking personnel working in highly organized hierarchies, there is no denying, Turkish dishes have much to offer the world.
Something as simple as bread, often taken for granted in many parts of the world, assumes an almost sacred role among Turkish people. It has cultural and religious significance. Many Turks have a deep respect for bread and recognize it as mankind’s main food. Bread is ubiquitous on Turkish dining tables and is the most respected food item in Turkish dishes.
Bread is considered by some Turks as a divine blessing, and among most Turks, it is at the very least spoken of with reverence and respect. In Turkish cuisine, there are basically three types of bread. There are loaves, flatbreads, and a special type of bread called yufka. Bread plays such a significant part in many Turkish meals, that it is considered the main course, to which one or two sides will be prepared. It is essential to understand that bread is central to Turkish food culture.
A Day in the Life of a Turkish Kitchen – Typical Turkish Breakfasts
Today’s Turkish people prefer a hearty breakfast, that often starts with a circular bread with sesame seeds called Simit, often served with butter. Turkish breakfasts also include cheeses. Some of the typical cheeses are beyaz, peynir, Kaspar, and others. Olives, eggs, muhammara, tomatoes, honey, jam, cucumbers, and such sausage-like foods as kaymak and sucuk. Other foods include pastirma, borek, Simit, pogaça, a fried dough called pisi, and soups are all typical breakfast foods.
It would be difficult to find a Turkish kitchen that doesn’t serve Menemen, a breakfast specialty made from eggs, tomatoes, onions, and green peppers, all cooked in olive oil. Other Turkish breakfasts include things like kuymak, which can be called yaglas, mihlama, or muhlama, depending on which region of Turkey it is made and eaten in. Regardless of what is eaten for breakfast, there is going to be some tea being served. It is also interesting that the actual word for breakfast “kahvalti” translates into “before coffee.”
The Amazing Variety and Diversity of Turkish Dishes
Simple food groups like soups and cheeses take on a special place in Turkish dishes. In many countries, soups are usually consumed before or after the main course in lunches and dinners and mostly consist of a relatively simple variety. In Turkey, this is not the case.
It may come as a surprise, but before the advent of modern Turkish breakfasts, for most Turks, a Turkish breakfast was actually a soup.