One of the greatest cultural legacies of the Turks who played a major role in the beginning and development of the history of civilization and undertook the first great migration bringing along their values and culture to the Anatolian lands is the Turkish cuisine.
The Turkish cuisine, which had originated from the blending of the Asian, European, Middle Eastern and African cultures and evolved under the influence of the Seljuk and Ottoman Cuisines over the centuries, offers thousands of various dishes and delicacies.
Turkish cuisine evolved long before the Common Era, during the times of hunting and gathering. To provide the hunters with delicious and savory food the women of the time developed various dishes by trial and error and discovered the spices that added flavor.
During the times of nomadic living and settled life after on, the Turks occupied themselves with husbandry that led to the consumption of milk and the discovery of a variety of dairy foods such as cheese, yoghurt and ayran (a yoghurt drink). Agricultural products such as wheat and barley are the major cereals that form the basis of Turkish culinary culture.
One of the most significant legacies of the Ottoman Era, the Palace cuisine, which has given the evolving Turkish cuisine its final touch, is still preserved today. The Ottoman Palace cuisine diversified with the adaptation of diverse flavors and recipes as the borders of the Ottoman Empire kept extending throughout the Asian, European and African continent and reached its heyday during the 19th century.
Some of the flavors that have enriched the international cuisine after the discovery of the American continent paved their way to the Palace Cuisine as well. With the discovery of the vast continent, food items such as tomatoes, tomato paste, beans, potatoes, turkey, and cocoa had reached the soils of Anatolia in no time and become indispensable ingredients of many Turkish specialties.
The influence of the Palace Cuisine can be observed in various international cuisines of the present day thanks to the foreign cooks of the Ottoman Era who adapted various original recipes to their native cuisine.
Tea, one of the indispensable items of Turkish culinary culture, does not have such a long history although it is commonly consumed in the present day. Turkish black tea, grown in the Eastern Black Sea region and imported for the first time in the 19th century, has become an essential part of the dominant culture by now and is drunk any time of the day.
Turkish coffee, on the other hand, is a unique type of coffee made with a special brewing method invented by Turks. This specialty, often served together with water, Turkish Delight or liquor, has a significant place in Turkish culture as it is inferred in the popular Turkish saying “Bir fincan kahvenin kırk yıl hatırı vardır” (A cup of coffee is remembered forty years).” Turkish coffee, stewed in a special coffee pot (cezve) after the raw coffee beans are roasted and milled, tastes the more delicious the foamier it is prepared.
The Turkish cuisine, which has become the dominant cuisine of the whole Anatolian region by now continues to evolve with the contributions of expert cooks and new techniques, and is offered at a variety of places varying from the most luxurious restaurants to the most modest diners.