Essential Elements of Turkish Cuisine

Appears in

Classic Turkish Cooking

By Ghillie Basan

Published 1995

  • About

Turkey stretches from the southeastern end of Europe to the edges of the Middle East. Anatolia, the Asian part of Turkey, is divided into seven geographical regions: the Aegean, the Marmara, the Black Sea, eastern Anatolia, southeastern Anatolia, the Mediterranean and central Anatolia. It is a land of enviably rich produce and a cornucopia of tastes. It is where the flavours of the Mediterranean set and the aromas of the East rise with the muezzin as he calls the faithful to prayer.
In the villages of Anatolia meals are often eaten from a communal pot, off a communal tray on the floor, a tradition that stems from the leather sheet placed on the ground by the early pastoral nomads of Central Asia - the ancestral tablecloth. In the Topkapi Palace in Istanbul where one might expect elaborate dining-rooms, the sultans too sat on the floor and ate off trays or small, low-set, portable tables which were laid out in different parts of the Palace.