Cuisine

Cuisine

First things first . . . a quick swim in the Mediterranean and then breakfast . . . fresh bread and jam, seasonal fruit, locally made cheeses, fragrant coffee and hand squeezed juice. There’s something special about eating on the deck . . . maybe it’s the sea air, maybe its the peaceful sound of the water and the birds overhead. All meals served on the trip are incredible, prepared with the freshest of local ingredients, true Mediterranean cuisine. Your private chef and crew will astound you with the traditional Turkish fare prepared on board. A visit to a local village will offer lunch in a private home, an experience few who visit the land are lucky enough to have.

Some well known dishes which will be served on Board
Mezze – Delicious assortment of Turkish appetizers
Kofte – Minced lamb and Beef spiced Meatballs
Imambayildi (Priest Fainted) – A Delicious Traditional Eggplant Platter
Cacik – Cucumber, Fresh Garlic, Yoghurt and Parsley Cold Soup
Kebabs – Roasted lamb, Chicken, Beef and Fish
Fresh Fish is caught by crew in most cases.
Fresh Fruit and Juices Squeezed on Board.

For those who travel to engage in culinary pursuits, the Turkish Cuisine is well worth exploration. The variety of dishes that make up the cuisine, the ways they all come together in feast-like meals, and the evident intricacy of each craft involved offer enough material for life-long study and enjoyment. It is not easy to discern a basic element of a single dominant feature, like the Italian “pasta” or the French “sauce”. Whether in a village home, at a restaurant along the Bosphorus or meals taken aboard your gulet, familiar patterns of this rich and diverse cuisine are always present. It is a rare art which satisfies the senses while reconfirming the higher order of society, community and culture.

A practically-minded child watching Mother cook “cabbage dolma” on a lazy, grey winter day is bound to wonder: “Who on earth discovered this peculiar combination of sautéed rice, pine-nuts, currants, spices, herbs and all tightly wrapped in translucent leaves of cabbage, each roll exactly half an inch thick and stacked up on an oval serving plate decorated with lemon wedges? How is it possible to transform this humble vegetable to such heights of fashion and delicacy with so few additional ingredients? And, how can such a yummy dish also possibly be good for you?”

The modern mind, in a moment of contemplation, has similar thoughts upon entering a modest sweets shop where “baklava” is the generic cousin of a dozen or so sophisticated sweet pastries with names like: twisted turban, sultan, saray (palace), lady’s navel, nightingale’s nest… The same experience awaits you at a “muhallebici” (pudding shop) with a dozen different types of milk puddings. One can only conclude that the evolution of this glorious cuisine was not an accident, but rather, as with the other grand cuisines of the world, it was a result of the combination of three key elements. A nurturing environment is irreplaceable.

Turkey is known for an abundance and diversity of foods due to its rich flora, fauna and regional differentiation. Secondly, the legacy of an Imperial Kitchen is inescapable. Hundreds of cooks, all specializing in different types of dishes and all eager to please the royal palate, no doubt had their influence in perfecting the cuisine as we know it today. The labor, worldwide trade, and total control of the Spice Road all reflected the culmination of wealth and the flourishing of culture in the capital of a mighty Empire. Finally, the longevity of social organization should not be taken lightly either. The Turkish State of Anatolia is a millennium old and so naturally is its cuisine.

Time is of the essence as Ibn’I Haldun wrote, “the religion of the King, in time becomes that of the people,” which also holds for the King’s food. Thus, the 600-year reign of the Ottoman Dynasty and a seamless cultural transition into the present day of modern Turkey led to the evolution of a grand cuisine through differentiation, the refinement and perfection of dishes, and the sequence and combination of the meals in which they are found.

The cuisine is also an integral aspect of the culture. It is a part of the rituals of everyday life. It reflects spirituality, in forms that are specific to it, through symbolism and practice. Anyone who visits Turkey or has a meal in a Turkish home, is sure to marvel at the uniqueness of the cuisine.

Do not dismiss the dish saying that it is just simply food. The blessed thing is an entire civilization in itself!

Abdulhak Sinasi