When it comes to Turkey, what do you imagine? Istanbul? Minarets?
Turkey is actually larger than the state of Texas and presents a vast and quite diverse set of geography: the different coasts of the Black Sea, Mediterranean and Aegean; the snow-capped mountains of the far east; a vast central plain with wonderful lakes.
That central plane is where, about 10,000 years ago as the last ice age ended, that mankind began domesticating animals and raising crops. Yes, Central and Eastern Turkey predate that Fertile Crescent we all read about.
British author John Gregory-Smith went on a food tour of Turkey with his Turkish father. They traveled extensively, ate well and in the end John was quite completely fascinated with this land. Turkish Delights begins with a wonderful map and culinary tour of the principal regions of Turkey. Coasts, plains and mountains have all generated regional cuisines that lie true to that local terroir.
The book cover? Those are Alcati Borek, phyllo packets of lamb, onions, spices and parsley. They are typical of the meze or tapas style of food that you may associate with Turkish eating styles. Certainly nibbling at a café is one way to relish this cuisine.
John notes that Turkish eating styles are truly different than ours. The big meal of the day is breakfast which can have plenty of protein and carbs: meat and cheese abound in the recipes. You could, of course, order French Toast but Turkish French toast is a tad different: pepper flakes, cumin, mint, and crumbled feta cheese.
There is a chapter devoted to those meze plate and another to the street food that floods your senses in every city and village. Pide and Kofte, basically flatbread or pizzas and meatballs, are offered everywhere. But everywhere they use the local ingredients so the dishes have wonderful diversity. There is a pide here with chicken, artichokes and olives. Another with pastrami and Cheddar cheese topped with a fried egg!
You may well have enjoyed pulled pork. Here, you will find pulled lamb, black-olive encrusted pulled lamb, that has been cooked for hours with a crust of those olives, herbs, and anchovies. Served on flatbread, it is a true Turkish delight.
Turkish Delights is replete with wonderful photos of the food and geography. It is a striking physical landscape on a grand, if not intimidating, scale. You see those mountains running down to the Black Sea coast, and you simply want to book a flight. Take this book along. The cuisine is different and you need a guide to all the delights. The Turkish Delights.