If you want to start a food fight, just ask people who are the worlds greatest cuisines?
You would answer, ‘Chinese’ & ‘French’, correct? So, what is the third greatest cuisine? I can tell you it’s not Indian, Japanese or even Italian. Its ‘Turkish‘. Why you aks? well, lets think about it. The Ottoman Empire covered three continents for 600 years and they controlled the spice trade.
Over in Istanbul the Sultans very large palace kitchens housed up to 1,300 staff. And they would prepare – (sometimes for thousands) – poached chicken with walnut sauce, rice pilaf with eggplant and meatballs and salads with rose petals.
The Ottoman rule extended from Budapest to Baghdad, which included much of the Mediterranean area. Turkish people seeking new lands had been moving through central Asia towards the Middle East for three thousand years. And at the end of the 13th century, the Ottomans set up permanent camp in what was then Constantinople, now known as Istanbul.
By then, there had been a mix of foods from Asia, the Islamic world and bits of Europe. For example, the Turkish Uyghur started a kingdom in China. (during the 8th century) And the Turkish manta which is lamb-filled dumplings, are probably an adaptation of some kind of Chinese pot sticker.
The Turks love all their food to be fresh and in season. For example, fish is cooked the very day it is caught and the simplest Turkish restaurant serves fresh salad, olives, cucumbers, tomatoes. You can see street vendors carrying on their heads piles of freshly baked, sesame-covered bagels and soft pretzels. Carts are loaded with freshly caught mussels which are served with a squirt of lemon. Turkish women sit in restaurant windows and make crepes to be filled with spinach, cheese or meat.
‘Meyhanes’ are like dim small houses where waiters come to the table with small plates of – pickled sea bass, salad with red pepper paste, Albanian fried lamb livers, zucchini fritters and all is washed down with ‘Raki’, the Turkish national drink.
The cuisine of Turkey deserves to be worshiped.