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The Westernization of Turkish Food Culture

Dishes From Turkey: The Evolution of Turkish Cuisine - part 6

The westernization of Turkish food culture. It was during the Republican period that many reforms and foreign influences were seen.  The custom of eating meals in different dishes became common, as did everyone eating as much as they needed, with equality.  Even today, in rural areas, people eat around trays, preserving customs that go back centuries.  As globalization has brought all kinds of foods, herbs, and spices to homes all over the world, Turkish dishes are poised to have a significant influence on global food tastes.

How Western Food Culture Has Affected the Turkish Food Culture

Turkish food culture has been greatly influenced by western culture.  It seems for some time that this influence has grown considerably.  Even Islam has had a considerable influence on what is considered traditional Turkish culture.  Animals that are prohibited by Islam are mostly excluded from Turkish kitchens and Turkish food culture.  Additionally, Turkish dishes have begun to assimilate many aspects of Arabic cuisine.

Many modern Turks may feel that one dismaying effect of the Westernization of Turkish dishes is that dining rooms in homes are starting to disappear, as Turks begin to eat like much of the West, on the go.  Communal meals were an anchor for strong family cohesion. Nowadays, many young Turks are viewed as pursuing individuality to the point of selfishness.  Western fast-food restaurants have popped up on most corners in almost all major cities in Turkey.  Food companies are quite happy to see the Turkish market open up and embrace their fast-food products.  But many people feel these modern changes are a low point for Turkish dishes and Turkish food culture.

It certainly doesn’t help the situation that both men and women are having to work harder and longer because the economy in modern Turkey leaves much to be desired. Complicating matters, Turkish youth have become acclimated to the Western diet, at the expense of losing their palate for Turkish dishes.  The Turkish dishes of their mothers and grandmothers are becoming less and less popular among the youth. Additionally, obesity is on the rise. Also, many of the ill effects of poor diet found in the west, like hyperactivity in children.  This is obviously a result of the nutritional imbalance that accompanies the western diet.

Turkish Kitchens Are Being Replaced By Ready-Made Meals.

Unsurprisingly, many urban Turks in large cities and even some rural Turks have begun to eat fast. While it is true that fast-food restaurants have opened extensively in large urban areas, Turkish food culture has survived and even thrived as well. That is because many Turks have retained a taste for Turkish spices and Turkish specialties that large multinational chains cannot offer.  Additionally, the Turkish food culture has adapted and offered many Turkish delicacies, in a more fast-food environment.

Thankfully, large chains can’t replace Turkish dishes. This is undoubted because of the rich diversity and high quality of traditional Turkish food culture. Burgers and other Western fare are eaten, but Turkish food like gözleme, börek, midye tava, kumpir, kokoreç, döner, köfte have somehow become reinterpreted as fast food in Turkish dishes.

Shopkeepers and tradesmen in Turkey are referred to as Esnaf lokantası, and because they have always needed to eat rather quickly because of their workday, has been a large market for the traditional Turkish home-cooking served as fast food. They have provided a means of transforming Turkish kitchens into a hybrid of fast food and Turkish dishes. They demanded Turkish food at affordable prices, and that’s exactly what exists in most Turkish cities.

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