Updated Date : 15.01.2022
What to Eat in Istanbul - Turkey
Turkey is a vast country. The total population is a little over 80 million people. There is not a state system in administration, but there are seven different regions. When it comes to cuisine, every region in Turkey offers an additional alternative. For example, The Black Sea region in the north of the country is famous for fish. Being located in a peninsula, this is the only region that fish involves nearly every dish. The most common fish to see in the region is anchovy. In the east of Turkey, Aegean Region, the typical dishes are related to vast forests and nature. Herbs, plants, and roots are mainly used in the cuisine.The famous "meze" / (simple starters especially prepared with olive oil) comes from this region. In the west of Turkey, South-West Anatolia region, there is no chance for a person to be done eating if there is no meat in the cuisine. The famous "kebab" (grilled meat on a skewer) tradition comes from this region. If you are in Turkey and don't try Turkish food, then your trip is not completed yet. All in all, here is some of the most known meals from Turkish cuisine;
Kebap: Meaning grilled, the phrase in Turkey commonly is used for meat on a skewer grilled with charcoal. Kebabs are done with beef, chicken, or lamb and take their name from Turkey's cities. For example, if one says Adana Kebab, a town in Turkey, they want their beef kebab with hot chili pepper. On the other hand, if one says Urfa Kebab, another city in Turkey, they want their kebab without hot chili pepper.
Rotary: Doner means rotating. This may be the most famous dish from Turkey all over the world. Commonly mistaken with regular kebab, Doner kebab has to stand on a skewer and be grilled in a rotating form by charcoal. There are two kinds of Doner, beef, and chicken. Beef Doner kebab is prepared with slices of beef meat mixed with lamb fat. Chicken Doner Kebab is slices of chicken breast grilled on a vertical skewer.
Lahmacun is another typical dish that is not known a lot by travelers. It is the most common what you can find in Kebab restaurants as a starter or as a main course. This round bread is baked in the oven with a mixture of tomato, onions, pepper, and spices. The shape is close to what Italians call pizza, but the taste and cooking methods are entirely different. You can also check it in Turkish food recipes.
Appetizer: Meze means starter or appetizer in Turkish tradition. It is one of the central parts of Turkish food. As Turkey is famous for its strong kebab tradition, meze is a good option for vegetarians. Mezes are mainly done without meat and cooking process. They are mixed vegetables, herbs, and spices and served with olive oil. They may be used as a side dish, or the main course depends on the mood and circumstances.
What To Drink in Istanbul - Turkey
Turks do have an exciting taste for drinks. Even some traditions are related to what they drink and when. You can understand how close you are to other people looking at what they serve you as a beverage. There are certain times that you have to drink a definite beverage. Even breakfast in the Turkish language has a relation to a drink consumed for centuries in this country. Here are some of the beverages that a traveler in Turkey would encounter;
Turkish Coffee: The oldest coffee-consuming people in the world are Turks. Originating from Yemen and Ethiopia in the 16th century with the order of the Sultan, the first coffee beans arrived in Istanbul. After the arrival of coffee in Istanbul, there were countless numbers of coffee houses. Turks loved this drink that much that they used to drink one cup of this coffee after breakfast to start the day more energetic. Kahvalti / breakfast in the Turkish language comes from here. Breakfast means before coffee. There are several traditions related to coffee as well. For example, before the marriage, when the groom and bride's families meet for the first time, the bride is asked to make the coffees.This would be the first impression of the bride in the new family. Even there is Turkish expression as "One cup of coffee provides 40 years of friendship".
Tea: If you ask the most common drink in Turkey, the answer will be tea, even before water. Even though tea agriculture in Turkey started in the late 70s, Turkey became one of its highest consumers. Turks would never have breakfast without tea. There is no real-time for tea when you see a friend, during work, when you have guests, in the evening with the family, and so on.
Buttermilk: The most common drink to have with Kebab in Turkey is Ayran. It is yogurt with water and salt and a must to try while in Turkey.
Sherbet: This is what the people in Ottoman Era would drink a lot before the famous carbonated beverages brands today. Sherbet is mainly prepared out of fruits and seeds, sugar, and several spices like cardamom and cinnamon. Rose and pomegranate are the primary flavors.
Alcohol in Istanbul - Turkey
Despite the main idea, Turkey is a Muslim country, and there may be strong regulations about alcohol, the usage of alcohol in Turkey is quite common. According to religion Islam, alcohol is strictly prohibited, but as Turkey's lifestyle is more liberal, finding a drink in Turkey is relatively easy. Even Turks do have the national alcoholic beverage that they enjoy on the fresh fish from the Bosphorus. There are local grapes that Turks enjoy their local wines in several different regions in Turkey. There are several regulations about alcohol as well. Below the age of 18, one cannot buy a drink in Turkey. The places you can find alcohol are big supermarkets, some shopping malls, and stores that they have specific license to sell alcohol.The sites that they have a special permit for alcohol are called TEKEL SHOP. All in all,
Raki: If the question is the most common alcoholic beverage in Turkey, the answer is Raki. The Turks even call it their national drink, and there are several funny sayings about it in Turkey. The first one is I don't remember the question, but the answer is Raki. This is an underline of Raki's high level of alcohol. Turks do also have a nickname for Raki, Aslan Sutu / Lion's milk. This is to say Raki doesn't come from a lion, but a few sips can make you feel like a lion. But what exactly is Raki? It is made of distilled grapes and then aniseed. The percentage of alcohol is between 45 and 60 percent. As a result, the majority adds water to soften it up, and the watercolor drink changes its color to white.It is generally served with mezes or fish.
Wine: Several regions in Turkey can find high-quality wine because of the climate and fertile land. Cappadocia and Ankara regions are two of the territories you can find the best-quality wines in Turkey. There are kinds of grapes that you can find all over the world, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Aside from that, you can only try and taste several kinds of grapes in Turkey. For example, for the red wines, Okuzgozu / Ox Eye is one of the best grape kinds from Turkey's east. This is a dry wine with a dense flavor. For the white wines, Emir from the Cappadocia region is the best choice with sparkling wines.
Beer: Without question, the oldest alcoholic beverage in Turkey is beer. We can trace it 6000 years ago, starting with the Sumerians, beer is brewed in Turkey. There are two leading brands, Efes and Turk Tuborg. Efes has 80 percent of the market, with several kinds of having 5 to 8 percent of alcohol. Turk Tuborg is one of the 5 top beer brewing companies in the world. Aside from the Turkish market, there are more than 10 countries that export their beer.
The Final Word
All the foods mentioned above and beverages have been thoughtfully jotted to give you the idea of the authentic Turkish culture. However, we suggest you surely try the Turkish doner kebab and the Raki, if not all of them.