Food is very important in Turkish culture. Home-cooked food varies by region, but tends to be made up of dishes such as meatballs, soups, stews, vegetables marinated in tomato sauce as well as other dishes with rice, bread and yoghurt on the side. Home-cooked food is known as ev yemekleri (home foods) and is also available at the restaurants which go by that name.

Another do-it-yourself cuisine is mangal (barbecue) – many Turks like nothing more than going to a wooded area, setting up a barbecue and roasting meat and fish to be eaten in sandwich form. Particularly in the west of Turkey, it is worth trying meze (mezze) at a meyhane, a place where alcohol is served and there is often live music.

mangal_bbq

As you go further east, the kebab (both chicken and beef) becomes king, and various types of offal are also available to the more adventurous traveller. Even the smallest towns will have their locally farmed foods, and it is always a good icebreaker to ask what the local specialities are.

Vegetarians and those with other food requirements will find it easy to get by in the big cities, but may need to search a bit in the east and in smaller towns.

Surprisingly, a form of vegetarian fast food peculiar to Turkey is çiğ köfte (raw meatballs). Despite the name, commercial premises, due to food poisoning legislation, have not used meat in these wraps for years; they now consist only of bulgur wheat, lettuce and pomegranate sauce.


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