Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Taste of Turkey the Country

Do you ever long to be somewhere and in your mind you visualize the setting, the sounds, the sights?  I used to do that a lot.  In my younger years, I loved to read non fiction books about far away places.  One of my favorite subjects was India.  All through those early years, the closest I got to far away lands was Egypt.  And, for many years, I kept those sights and sounds in my mind but times change and so do places.  In the old days (1970's), there was a suburb of Cairo, Maadi, where you could find beautiful tree lined streets with villas and hanging bouganvilla and plants.  But, with the need for space to accommodate people, these have steadily disappeared.  I longed to find a place where I could sit and smell the country (yes, I love the smell of Egpt), and experience a tranquil setting.  For me, I found that place in Turkey.

It was really by chance that we discovered this country.  Originally, I watched a program about Piran, Slovenia on the Adriatic Coast.  My son was home and I told him I wanted to visit Piran so we began brain storming as to how to plan a trip.  He then said why don't we visit the southern coast of Turkey.   Long story short, we ended up going to Istanbul that year and we were hooked; we didn't visit the Turkish coast until the following year.  I thought I might share some fun photos from my last visit to this amazing country.

Turkey was the Ottoman Empire for over 600  years.  It spanned far and wide and was also an important part of the old Silk Road.  Needless to say, spices in Turkey are everywhere.  Here's just a small glimpse of what is available.

 I think next to spices (or maybe before) is the love of Turkish tea.  It's served hot (really hot) and in small glasses with plenty of sugar if you wish.  I'm a big tea drinker so this lifestyle suits me fine.

I know I've shared this photo in my blog before but these are 5000 gram packages of tea.  That's over 11 pounds!  Huge bags...and that's a samovar in the bottom left.  The water is heated in the body of the samovar and a strong tea mixture is made and put in the teapot.  To make a glass of tea, you pour a little of the strong tea into your glass and dilute it with the steaming hot water.

One sunny afternoon my husband and I decided to walk down the road to the outdoor cafe for an afternoon refreshment.  It's not a restaurant in the normal sense as it offers outdoor seating and different little areas where you can sit and enjoy the nature.  We chose to sit on the roof top under this beautiful grape arbor.  Wow!  This is one of those pictures that was stored away in my mind from reading all those books long was heaven.

The hostess at this outdoor cafe asked if we wanted tea and "cigara".  I had forgotten that cigara were little spirals of baklava dough filled with cheese and fried.  They were delicious.

And, best of all the view was amazing. I could have sat there all afternoon drinking tea.

After discovering more about Turkish cuisine, I really believe they are the forerunners of this delicious cuisine that reached all over the Ottoman empire.  Here's a picture showing Turkish style pizza being made on type of a wood burning stove.  The inside is a mixture of feta cheese and herbs.

If you had read my post about our home in Turkey, you might remember that we ordered our furniture from Ikea.  I was missing one of my dining room chairs and supposedly they had shipped it to us and it was at a shipping company downtown.  My husband and I set off one afternoon to find the place but to no avail.  But, we did find a lovely little sidewalk restaurant where we had a delicious lunch.  This was the Turkish salad we ordered.  I love the way the tomatoes and cucumbers are chopped so fine.  And, of course it featured nar eksili sosu which is a thick, pomegranate syrup.  Delicious!

The entree, "Turkish breakfast" is a popular item all over Turkey.  Prices vary anyway from 15TL (Turkish lira) to 25TL per person.  Here is the vast array of dishes that was served to us one morning.  And, of course it came with a double teapot (it's shown in the far right background), with tea in the top teapot and boiling water on the bottom.  

I've collected Middle Eastern cookbooks for 40 years as I love making Egyptian food.  But, now I'm wondering if Turkey was the master chef who passed on their cuisine to these other countries.  Here's some fun facts I found out...

1.  I'm sure you seen or eaten Turkish Delight, that wonderful chewy confection that can be flavored with mint, rose water or nuts?  It was created by Haci Bekar as he was the confection chef for the Sultan back in late 1700's.  His descendants still operate this business today.

2. Turkey has some of the most delicious tasting nuts.  Did you know that 80% of the world's hazlenuts (filberts) are from Turkey?

3.  Borek is one of my favorite fast food treats.  It's a very thin dough filled either with meat, cheese of spinach and baked.  Kind of like a savory baklava.  It's funny because I ate this same thing in Croatia.  I think the Ottomans left their mark of food all over.

4.  Cig Kofte are meatless meatballs.  They are derived from what I know as Lebanese Kibbe, the raw meat variety.  But, cig kofte are vegetarian, made with bulgur wheat and spices and tomato paste. It's served on a piece of lavosh with lettuce.  It's one of my favorite new foods.  But, be careful as they like to put a spice hot sauce on the mixture.

5.  One afternoon I was walking downtown, away from the tourist area, and I came upon display of goatskins that were filled with something.  I later found out that this was tulum cheese.  Tulum is a goat milk cheese that is ripened in a goatskin.  How fabulous is that!  Next time, I'm going to buy some and taste it.

I'm going to sign off now since today my internet connection has decided to act up.  I think AT&T may have a problem today.  I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into my new found favorite place and I'd love to hear from you if you have a chance.  Stay safe wherever you are!

take care,


I'm linking to the following parties - please check them out!
1.  Five on Friday ...
2.  Willy Nilly Friday 5 ... 


  1. I love learning about other countries and for me food is one way of getting close to discovering what the country is about. Loved this post Pat and I agree Borek is one of my favourites too. There is a tiny café in Bloomsbury, London where the family came over from Turkey and they serve it there, pure heaven.

  2. What a fascinating post. I've never visited Turkey. The smell in the spice market must be amazing and the food looks delicious!

  3. So much information about Turkey. The foods sounds wonderful. Another place to put on my wish list. Barbara

  4. So interesting to hear about your foodie adventures in Turkey, it all looks wonderful. I could just do with a spot of that sunny warmth now. :-)

  5. Such a lovely post, there is nothing nicer than the discovery of a new country and the cuisine one offer. The salad looks amazing.

  6. oh the food sounds amazing...great post and thank you for linking! have a wonderful weekend!

  7. I've never been to Turkey but it sounds fascinating, especially the cuisine. It's wonderful to have photos to look back on, they can evoke so many memories and even bring scents of the places to mind.

  8. Facinating facts and I love your photos. It sounds as if you have discovered your paradise in Turkey. Being vegetarian I like the sound of the Cig Kofte:)

  9. I enjoy reading about your adventures abroad Pat. For us that have never been, it is quite fascinating.

  10. When I am in Turkey I love their apple tea, but as soon as I get home, yuck! We always went B&B so we could eat out in evenings, the food is wonderful, I would love to go back again, we have been there twice, but with all the troubles in middle east, is not a location to have a holiday.

  11. A fascinating post, I love learning about the food of other countries. My favourite photo is the first one - the colours of those spices just knock me out! Thank you for sharing. x

  12. Trying different foods is an enjoyable part of a travel adventure and it sounds as if you have a good knowledge of Turkish food. The good thing is that even when not in Turkey you can create dishes at home that will take you straight back there especially through the taste and aroma of the spices.

  13. It's always interesting to try different foods that's part of the fun of travelling. I lived in the middle East for many years and once I got used to it loved the food there :)

  14. That was a wonderful glimpse into your Turkish experiences! The view was lovely from the cafe! I could happily join you there and sip tea!
    Enjoy your weekend!

  15. Great facts to find out about Turkey! Those packets of tea are incredible aren't they!! It would take a long time to use all of that tea I imagine. I always love seeing photos of spices piled up, I am amazed at how they get them to look so amazing and they don't go everywhere. Thank you for joining Five On Friday. Happy Weekend! xx

  16. Turkey looks amazing and it is so good to be immersed in the culture of a place. Have a great weekend.

  17. We love Turkey, lived in Izmir for 2 years. Your photos brought back some great memories.

  18. Oh this is a gorgeous sunny postcard from Turkey. We went to Alanya when the girls were little and loved the food, as vegetarians we were surprisingly well catered for. This post has cheered up my very dark English morning, have a lovely weekend xx

  19. An interesting post & I adore Turkish food. Such an interesting read x

  20. What a fascinating post! All your photos are gorgeous, but it was the sea view that made my heart beat faster.
    I hope you will have peaceful times during your visits there.
    Happy weekend! xx

  21. Turkey is a fascinating country! So many delightful smells and your post on this!

  22. What a facinating post and oh my, the food looks amazing. Thanks for sharing such a delightful post. Have a beautiful week! Hugs!

  23. How fascinating to read about your experiences in Turkey, Pat. A great post, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was so nice looking at your lovely warming photographs (especially as it is so chilly here at the moment)! Hope you are having a great week!
    Barbara xx


I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment!