Monday, November 20, 2017
Another Trip to Turkey
Just back from a weeks vacation in Turkey. It was mostly helping some friends with things so there wasn't a lot of sightseeing, instead we were jumping from government offices to banks to other government offices. It was nice to relax though.
I've been to Turkey enough now to be able to tell some differences between Turkish cuisine versus Arabic cuisine. In the past I've noted that they're very similar, and to a newbie Westerner (like me at the time) they would be, but there are some significant differences:
1) Turkish food is usually a number of small dishes put in the centre of the table or given to you individually (see the pictures below for examples) whilst in Gulf Arabic cuisine a large meal tends to be larger dishes that are shared amongst everyone, even when you are eating with your hands from a large platter. I have yet to see Turkish meals eaten with your hand, Turks prefer cutlery.
2) Turkish food tends to involve a lot more dairy products. Cheese, butter, yogurt, these are all staples of Turkish meals. I've had meals that had four different types of cheese served, individually, not including any cheese incorporated into a dish (see the picture above). Arabic food, on the other hand, does not use dairy products much. Sometimes I see yogurt served as a side with a lamb & rice platter, that you can add to the rice if you want, but otherwise Gulf Arabic food is not big on dairy. In some ways Turkish cuisine could be seen as a cross between the heavy reliance on meat in Arabic cuisine, with the abundance of dairy seen in eastern European dishes.
3) Rice (or lack thereof). Arabic food uses rice as a staple grain, Turkish food doesn't instead having loaves of bread with the meal (as opposed to a thin Arabic pita bread) is much more common. Sometimes in Turkey they serve bulgur but I don't recall any rice dishes.
4) Nuts. Both cuisines utilize nuts but Turkish cuisine seems to use nuts a lot more. If you're allergic to nuts you are really going to struggle sometimes with Turkish food, they puts nuts and seeds in a lot of things.
I'm sure there's plenty of other differences between the cuisines, not to mention all the regional differences within Turkey itself, but it's nice that I'm starting to get better at recognizing the difference.