In Turkey, it is said that there are just three major cuisines in this world: Chinese, French and Turkish. Yet while you’ve likely experienced crepes and coq au vin, spring rolls and sweet and sour pork, little seems to be known about Turkish cuisine. Beyond the kebab, however, lies a wide range of unique regional dishes and restaurants with hints of Balkan, Caucasian and Middle Eastern cooking.
At a recent meal at Ciya, one of Istanbul’s temples to the country’s diverse cookery, a waiter in a chef’s hat stood behind a dozen or so steaming pots, arranged cafeteria style behind the glass counter.
“Here is Suuriya,” he said with a wave, pointing to a pot of nickel-sized meatballs simmering in a sauce of dark, sour cherries and cinnamon.
“Gaziantepe,” he continued, pointing his spoon at a variation of stuffed vegetable specific to the southeastern city. The plump, juicy dolma were made from dried eggplant that’s been rehydrated and filled with red pepper. Spicy and comforting, it was served with a dollop of thick yogurt on the side.
“Black Sea,” he said simply, moving on to a plate of sautéed kullubas, a type of wild greens sautéed with onions, as if his spoon were literally charting a course across the Anatolian plains.
There are few places in the world where a country’s evolution is so tangible – and so tasty.
Read more on Global Post: Istanbul: Way Beyond the Kebab