In November, I officially decided that I will be studying abroad in Turkey this summer (!!!). From May 18th to June 8th, I’ll be traveling all over the country with the Journey to Turkey, from Ankara to Istanbul and from the beach to hotels in caves. I’ll also get 6 upper division gen-ed credits, so this program is perfect. With this in mind, it gives me the perfect opportunity to answer this next prompt:
“Look up either a few of the staple foods or dishes or the traditional music of a country you want to visit, and describe why they are or aren’t appealing.”
When speaking with one of the professors accompanying the students on the trip, he raved about the food we’d get to eat. (He also promised that we wouldn’t gain any weight; we might even loose some.) With these high expectations in mind, I definitely wanted to see just what this trip’s dining had in store.
As the geography across the country varies, naturally the cuisine does as well. The coast along the Black Sea uses fish extensively. The Western part of the country relies on olive oil as a cooking staple. This trip should be jam-packed with different and interesting cuisine.
One thing I noticed in my research on Turkish food (mostly its Wikipedia page) is that they rely on more savory flavors. Americans are often used to sweet breakfast pastries and foods, like pancakes and syrup and fruit. However, Turkish breakfast often has olives and tomatoes and cheese. It will be interesting to have foods that I typically associate with lunch or dinner first thing in the morning. They also apparently have various soups that they eat for breakfast, which scares me a little bit, but I look forward to the new experiences.
One fast food staple in Turkey is the Döner kebap. Interestingly, as there are many Turkish immigrants in Germany (Berlin has the 2nd highest Turkish population of any city in the world, including those in Turkey), I’ve actually had the German-ized form of this dish. And it is absolutely delicious. The one I ate in Berlin is pictured below.
I hope to be able to eat an authentic Turkish döner once I’m in Turkey though. It’s likely that the one I had in Germany was made from veal or chicken instead of the traditional lamb, so I’d like to see how it’s different. The Turkish version can either be served on a pita like this one, or as a sandwich. I love bread, so I’m hoping to try the latter in Turkey. The only part of the original that scares me it that it sometimes comes with chili, and I’m a pretty big baby about spicy things.
Rice pilaf often comes with a side to traditional dishes in Turkey. In America, I usually only eat rice if it’s part of the Chinese food or sushi I’m eating, or if I cook a meal at home. All things grain are good in my book, so again, this is something I’m looking forward to. Carbs are my favorite.
Most people associate baklava with Greece, but it’s actually a Turkish dessert. Baklava consists of filo dough, nuts, and syrup or honey. Delicious. To say I’m excited for real baklava is an understatement.
I’m sure that at some point, I’ll encounter food I don’t like. It happened to me in Germany (a traditional Spreewald dish and I did not get along). However, keeping an open mind and trying everything is the best way to experience a culture, so that is what I intend to do.