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Salty Tomatoes

February 7, 2011

One of the most common asked questions for me when talking to family of friends back in the States is ‘What is the food like?’  After five months of eating almost exclusively Turkish cuisine, I can truthfully say that I am qualified to answer that question. 

I will be the first one to admit that, while Turkish food is wonderful, it took me awhile to adjust to.  There are many ingredients used in Turkish food.  I wasn´t used to those at the beginning of September.  Now I have become comfortable with eating half a loaf of bread a day, a lot of rice, and increased use of salt on all my food. 

Let´s start with breakfast (kahvaltı).  In the States I almost always had cereal and maybe fruit.  On the weekends, pancakes or waffles were common.  In Turkey, I can count on my fingers the number of times I have eaten cereal in my house (2) and have never had pancakes or waffles, though I plan to make pancakes for my hosts at some point.  Breakfast here generally consists of bread (surprise! Not.), jelly, honey, olives, eggs, tomatoes and cucumbers (salted), cheese, and sometimes börek and dolmas.  Oh!  And of course we also have çay (tea). 

Lunch varies.  Sometimes our breakfast is really a brunch so lunch doesn´t actually exist. However, when it does, it is a small meal.  Really more like a big snack.  If I am at school, I usually eat döner or rice with chicken.  I also drink a lot of juice for lunch.  Juice boxes are really popular in Turkey.

Dinner is a big meal.  We usually have several different dishes, but only eat one at a time (mostly because we only use one bowl throughout the entire meal).  There is always a lot of bread and usually rice too.  Çorba (thin soup…like broth), is always present.  We eat eggplant or beans frequently as well.  Rarely do we have meat as a dish unto itself, but it is usually mixed in with the vegetable or soup.  Oh, and there is çay too.   

Sweets usually are full of honey.  Cookies are small and very hard.  Not so hard that they threaten your teeth´s saety, but rather soft, chewy cookies don´t exsist here.

Definitions and Other Food Worthy of Mention

Çay Turkish word for tea.  It is drank at all times of the day (and night).  Everyone, no exaggeration, in Turkey has a çay pot in there house.  Pronounced ‘chai’; sound familiar?

Börek Type of traditional Turkish food that comes in many varieties.  Thin layers of dough with cheese or potatoes inside.  Either rolled or layed flat.

Dolmas Simply put: Turkish food.  Many varieties.  Like börek except it is rice wrapped in grape leaves or cabbage leaves.

Döner Turkish equivalent of fast food.  Chicken or lamb, lettuce, tomatoes, french fries, ketchup, and mayo all wrapped up is a thick tortilla.  May sound strange, but if you come to Turkey, you have to eat at least one.

Yoğurt Know to Americans as plain yogurt.  They eat it a lot.  I do not.  It also has special healing powers that reverse the negative effects of smoking.  🙂

Ayran The liquified version of yoğurt.  That with salt added.  Upon arrival in this country, I did not care of touch this drink with a ten foot pole.  Now I am willing to eat it with my lunch, even when other options are available.  It is a taste you learn to enjoy. 

Afiyet olsun.

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